A con artist almost got away with killing her lookalike with a poisoned piece of cheesecake. And if the private investigator who found her hadn’t been so good at his job, she might have gotten away with something much worse.
In “The Case of the Poison Cheesecake,” Peter Van Sant of “48 Hours” gives the facts.
Olga Tsvyk, a beauty artist in Queens, New York, got very sick and lost consciousness in August 2016 after her client Viktoria Nasyrova brought poisoned cheesecake to her house.
Tsvyk says she almost died at the hospital. She woke up a few days later and went home. When she got there, she saw that some of her things, like bags, money, and jewelry, were missing. She told the cops that Nasyrova did it. The police tried to find Nasyrova, but they couldn’t. They didn’t know that there were other people looking too.
So was Herman Weisberg. The former NYPD officer who became a private investigator was trying to find Nasyrova for a different case, so he went online to learn more about her.
Early in 2017, when he couldn’t sleep, he opened his PC and went to Nasyrova’s Facebook page. He looked at it and found something that surprised him.
In one of the pictures, Nasyrova was sitting in a car, and the headrest behind her had a unique white stitching.
Weisberg also saw something strange in the mirror of the sunglasses she was wearing.
The interior of the car stood out.
“I never look at what other people want me to see on these sites,” said Weisberg. “I’m used to looking at everything but what is meant to catch your eye.”
Weisberg went to a huge parking lot and started looking into each car window one by one. This was a great example of old-school detective work. He was trying to figure out what kind of car Nasyrova was in when the picture was taken.
Weisberg said, “I must have looked into cars for at least an hour before I saw what I was pretty sure was it.”
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He found a car with the same stitching and dashboard as the one in Nasyrova’s picture. A Chrysler 300 was the car. Next, he wondered if he could use the picture to find that Chrysler 300.
Weisberg thought that Nasyrova might live in Sheepshead Bay, a neighborhood in Brooklyn with a lot of Russians. She had liked and rated restaurants there.
He sent out a group to look for Chrysler 300s in that area with the same interior. He says that they found a lot of them and wrote down the license plate numbers.
They gave him a list, and he took care of the food. One of the names sounded like it came from Russia.
He found an address that was connected to the car. When he looked at the apartment building, he thought he had seen it before. He went back to Facebook and saw that the same building was reflected in Nasyrova’s shades. He sent a group of people to keep an eye on it.
Weisberg’s agents saw several women who looked like Nasyrova at the building, but he had to be sure. So, Weisberg says that he used an unofficial method that he had learned during his time with the NYPD.
He said, “I worked in drugs, where you’re always chasing people.” “When people run, they throw away their jackets or turn their shirts inside out, but nobody ever changes their shoes. I’ve gotten into the habit of knowing what kind of shoes everyone is wearing when I measure them.”
Weisberg saw that Nasyrova was wearing the same beige suede shoes in the surveillance video that he had seen her wear in her Facebook pictures.
Weisberg thought that the shoes were better than a fingerprint for what he wanted to do. He was sure he had tracked down Viktoria Nasyrova.
On March 20, 2017, he told police in Brooklyn. He gave them the address and apartment number, then waited in the lobby while they went up to Nasyrova’s flat. He says that a few minutes later, the police put Nasyrova in handcuffs and led her out of the building.
When they looked through her flat, they found Olga Tsvyk’s ID card. Investigators were sure that Nasyrova had planned to kill Tsvyk so that she could take her place.
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But why would Nasyrova try to kill someone and steal someone else’s identity? Weisberg says that it has something to do with the other case he was working on when he found her.
Early in 2017, he started working with a woman named Nadia Ford. She said that in 2014, Nasyrova stole from and killed her mother in Russia. He says that Nasyrova left Russia after the crime and needed a way to stay in the United States to avoid being caught by Russian police.
In January, the case of the poisoned cheesecake went to court. Nasyrova had been in jail for almost six years while waiting for her trial, which was put off because of a pandemic. The jurors took less than two hours to decide that Nasyrova had tried to kill someone. The judge gave her a prison term of 21 years. Nasyrova could be sent back to Russia after she does her time to face murder charges there.
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