MONTCLAIR, N.J. - One hobnobbed with academics and entrepreneurs who shared his interest in cutting-edge science. Another spoke five languages, went to embassy parties and was fascinated by global politics. A third held herself out to be a venture capitalist and hit the networking circuit, looking for investment opportunities.

The 11 people arrested and accused of being members of a Russian spy ring operating under deep cover in America's suburbs appear to have been part of a slow and patient plan by Moscow to cultivate contacts in the U.S. who could yield vital competitive information on finance, business and technology, intelligence experts say.

Ten members of the alleged ring were arrested across the Northeast and charged Monday with failing to register as foreign agents, a crime that is less serious than espionage and carries up to five years in prison. An 11th suspect was arrested in Cyprus, accused of passing money to the spies over several years.

Prosecutors said several of the defendants were Russians living in the U.S. under assumed names and posing as Canadian or American citizens. It was unclear how and where they were recruited.

The FBI finally moved in to break up the ring because one of the suspects - apparently a woman who called herself Anna Chapman, who was bound for Moscow, according to court papers - was going to leave the country, the Justice Department said.

The arrests flabbergasted many of the defendants' neighbors. In a case that seemed to have come straight out of a Cold War spy novel or a Hitchcock thriller, many of the defendants lived what seemed to be utterly ordinary suburban lives - saying goodbye to their kids at the bus stop, taking pride in their well-kept lawns and flower beds, making small talk with the neighbors, even holding Fourth of July parties.

Chapman, a young redhead, posted a number of pictures of herself on social-networking sites, including a photo of her at the Statue of Liberty and a seductive, pouty shot of her in a lacy baby-blue outfit.