Anna Delvey, in short, scammed New York’s high society into believing she was a wealthy German heiress, with a trust fund squirrelled away. In reality, she was a Russian woman from a middle class family who wanted to make it big without really trying.
Born Anna Sorokin in 1991, she grew up with a truck driver dad and a stay-at-home mum, who were supportive of her big dreams, before they got completely unrealistic.
The family relocated from Russia to Germany when Anna was 16, but this did little to help her future claims that she was German, given that she struggled with the language.
While she got into a fancy art school in London after high school, she quickly decided there must be a quicker path toward notoriety, and instead turned her sights to Paris, where she got an internship at the renowned fashion magazine, Purple.
However, that wasn’t enough for Anna, and she’d soon find herself partying among some of the wealthiest people in New York City.
Anna’s truth came out for the most part in 2018, when journalist Jessica Pressler published the article ‘How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People’, a massive feature that detailed the extent of her scamming.
It introduced the world to Anna through the eyes of one of her best friends (from before she was caught), Neffarati Davis, who worked as a concierge at a boutique hotel in Soho, New York, where Anna was staying for quite some time.
She detailed how the staff at the hotel came to realise that Anna was a generous tipper, often handing $100 over for a small service, which lead the staff to literally fight over delivering food and mail to her rented room.
But as Nefferati, known as Neff, became more of a friend to Anna, she also witnessed the eventual collapse of her plans.
Branding herself as ‘Anna Delvey’, Anna kept the details of her 'wealthy' German parents scarce but acted in such a way to just convince people that she was rich.
Using her contacts at Purple to make connections across the city, she was soon hanging out with (Gossip Girl voice) ‘Manhattan’s elite’, attending all the right venues and parties in order to be accepted as one of their own.
When she first arrived in the city, she was supporting herself, but as her money began to run out – and with her parents telling her she needed to get a job – she began scamming.
Telling her rich contacts about a plan she had to open an arts club, Soho House-style venue called ‘The Anna Delvey Foundation’, she was soon receiving help in scouting venues, and through recommendations for financial advisors, who were helping her ploy for the most amount of money she would attempt to come into - $25 million.
While she nearly pulled it off, a director at the bank decided last minute that he wanted to verify Anna’s assets – which she claimed were sitting in a Swiss bank account – by visiting Switzerland and meeting her bankers.
Anna very quickly withdrew the application for the $25 million, and was left with $55,000 in her bank accounts from prior acts of fraud. However, it wouldn’t last her long.
The staff at her boutique hotel home had realised that she’d never made a wire transfer for the cost of her stay, and that they had no credit card on file, meaning Anna now had a $30,000 bill to repay. She was evicted from the hotel, but it still didn’t hold her back.
In May of 2017, Anna hosted a trip that would eventually be her undoing. She invited three friends on a holiday to Marrakesh, Morocco, and promised she would pay for everything.
However, a few days in, staff at the lavish, expensive La Mamounia resort, flagged that none of her payments had worked, and demanded that either Anna or one of her guests pay the $62,000 bill they’d built up across their stay.
Rachel DeLoache Williams, a photographer and one of the friends on the trip, was eventually convinced by Anna to settle the bill using her work credit card, with Anna promising to pay her back via wire transfer. Predictably, Anna did not, and thus, her downfall began.
By the time Anna returned from Marrakesh, she was being investigated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for multiple instances of bank fraud.
While she attempted to slip off to a rehabilitation facility unnoticed, she was eventually arrested in Malibu, and she was indicted in October of 2017.
While Anna would eventually be sentenced to serve 4-12 years in prison for grand larceny, attempted grand larceny, and theft of services, her story became a bit of a global obsession.
“Anna is a fascinating character for better [or] for worse, especially as a young woman,” photographer Rachel DeLoache Williams has said of her ex-friend.
“She took on traditionally male dominated power structures when it came to financial scamming. People are interested in that. The story is timely because people are so interested in social media now and its positive and negative impact on society and the way in which it encourages people to want to build themselves as an internet celebrity,” she reflected to Harpers Bazaar.
Rachel’s experiences with Anna, while bizarre to an outsider, make a lot of sense when you consider the circumstances of their friendship.
“Before this, I probably would have told you that I was a good judge of character and I don’t know that if that’s untrue,” Rachel has said.
“But I didn’t see Anna coming, and I’d seen the movies, I’d read the books. When you meet someone like Anna, alarm bells don’t go off immediately; it’s slower, it’s subtler,” she explained.
“Sometimes it’s easier to believe what someone wants you to think about them, be it through social media or what they themselves tell you, rather than how they act.”
WATCH BELOW: Former Friend To Fake Heiress Anna Sorokin On How She Says She Was Conned Out Of $60k | Nightline
Anna has now served her time in prison, getting out after just under four years in February, 2021. She’s returned to Instagram, where she has 143,000 followers, and honestly, it seems like she doesn’t have many regrets.
Speaking to Insider just after her release, Anna said “I have to deal with the consequences of my actions, yeah. But to just sit around and just think about everything I've done — it's not going to have changed it. I don't know. It would be a huge waste of my time.
“I feel like it's an insult to my intelligence. Like the whole case that the prosecutors created against me. They presented me as being this thirsty and greedy. I just had this vision. And it didn't work out.”
You can catch Inventing Anna on Netflix from February 11, 2022.