What is fame to you? When you think of a famous person, does your mind conjure images of red carpet celebrities, YouTube influencers, or rock stars? Do you judge fame based on how many hit movies someone appears in, what their net worth is, how many followers they have, or if they’re verified?

Anna Sorokin must have asked herself these questions when establishing her fake famous identity, Anna Delvey. Constructing an online presence that made her look famous and wealthy, Sorokin managed to invite herself into the elite circle of New York’s wealthy party people. With a smile and some carefully crafted follower counts, Sorokin scammed  people and banks out of astonishing sums of money. Now that she’s been arrested for her crimes, Sorokin is still stunningly coming up roses after earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to share her story. 

Who is Anna Sorokin – Really?

Fake Heiress Anna Sorokin

Sorokin claims that the way the media portrays her is far from truth. If you read or watch something about Sorokin, you’re shown a party girl who’s wheedling people out of their money with a smile and a wink. Sorokin claims this is not who she truly is. 

The BBC reports, “She was, in fact, a recent magazine intern, who came from an ordinary family of Russian immigrants living in Germany. By staying in expensive hotels and presenting a jetset life on Instagram, she managed to trick others into believing her fantasy and picking up her bills. Using fake documents, she even convinced a bank to give her a $100,000 overdraft, before the police finally tracked her down.

Sorokin now claims the prosecution played a major role in creating her media persona during her high-profile trial.

‘The prosecution totally misrepresented my motives. They said I paraded around New York, posing as an heiress. What happened was strictly between me and financial institutions, it was none of their business. They portrayed me as a wannabe socialite party girl and that was never my goal,’ she says.

Though Sorokin did enjoy champagne lunches and luxury holidays, she primarily had her sights set on creating her arts foundation and she fraudulently sought a $22m loan to try to get it off the ground. She even produced a high-end brochure (but never paid the designer) and claimed to have the backing of celebrity artists, such as the late Cristo, for the launch party. (Before the artist died last year, his publicist told the BBC the claim was pure fabrication.)”

Sorokin was just very good at being all the right parties and being seen by all the right people. A Medium article details Sorokin’s sneaky rise to the top of the social elite, and her stuttering fall as one credit card after another failed and bills came due. Soon, Sorokin was known around New York as a persona non grata and even her friends were tiring of her promises and failed deliveries. 

Sorokin claims that she wasn’t looking to fool people for gain, she was looking to, “fake it until she makes it.” It may seem difficult to distinguish the difference from the outside, but that’s the defense her made during her high-profile trial for a 2018 arrest.

Sorokin claims per the BBC, that she was always Anna Delvey inside. “‘[Others] portrayed me as someone very manipulative, which I don’t think I am,’ she says. ‘I was never too nice of a person. I was never trying to talk my way into anything. I just told people what I wanted and they gave it to me, or I would move on.'”

Sound like lying and manipulation to you? Us too. But Sorokin claims there’s a difference.  

Sorokin Arrested and Later Released

The truth about Sorokin’s identity came crashing down after she pushed her luck too far in 2018. Posing as Delvey, Sorokin was able to convince affluent friends to foot the bill for her lifestyles by simply pretending she was wealthy enough to pay for herself and forging fake documents. Staying in expensive hotels and paying for everything in hundred dollar bills, Sorokin was able to swindle friends out of tens of thousands of dollars. 

NBC reports that Sorokin was able to swindle about $275,000. At one point, Sorokin went on a luxury vacation to Morocco with a friend that racked up a whopping $62K bill – and stuck her friend with the balance. 

After her arrest, NBC reports that Sorokin was, “…convicted by a Manhattan jury on four counts of theft services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny. She was acquitted of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny, according to The Associated Press.

The Heiress of Fraud was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison. Sorokin was released on parole earlier this year after completing 3 years of her sentence. 

Crime Pays, in a Way!

Fake Heiress Anna Sorokin

Due to her headline-worthy exploits, Netflix offered Sorokin a $375K deal for her story. But even then, Sorokin claims she’s just a bystander in her own life. Per BBC, “‘I never asked for Netflix to buy my story, it just happened,’ says Sorokin, who was released on parole in February after more than three years behind bars. ‘And everything else, it just spun out of my control. It’s not like I orchestrated anything.'”

Due to laws preventing criminals from profiting from their crimes, Sorokin’s account was frozen and most of the Netflix money went towards restitutions for her victims. However, the Netflix deal isn’t the only offer Sorokin has received. When asked if her crime has paid off, Sorokin told BBC, “in a way, it did.”

Sorokin’s story is a stunning reminder just how much of the elite lifestyle is an illusion. Regardless of how much money is in your bank account, if you can exude a persona that is wealthy, connected, and established, you can have access to all the perks of affluent life. Nobody checks your bank account balance at the door, and friends eager to ride your coattails to glory will buy your favor. Although Sorokin displays some troubling lack of accountability, it’s clear that she orchestrated a masterful con and was able to reap the benefits of wealth. It’s a fascinating tale of putting one over on the ultra-rich; Sorokin simply ran out of luck.

The false heiress seems unrepentant, despite filing an appeal to have the criminal charges for bank fraud changed to civil. Insider reports Sorokin’s cheeky and somewhat brazen behavior since leaving prison in February, “Sorokin created a new Twitter account after her release using the name Anna Delvey. She tweeted the Manhattan District Attorney’s press release about her conviction.

‘Good job @ManhattanDA,’ she wrote.”

Medium reports that she treated her time in Riker’s Prison as almost a lark; “‘This place is not that bad at all actually,’ Anna told me, eyes sparkling behind her Céline glasses. ‘People seem to think it’s horrible, but I see it as like, this sociological experiment.”

She’d made friends, of course. The murderers were the most interesting to her. ‘There are couple of girls who are here for financial crimes as well,’ she told me. ‘This one girl, she’s been stealing other people’s identities. I didn’t realize it was so easy.’”

Because she is a German citizen, Sorokin may face deportation after she overstayed her visa. 

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