Fake Heiress Feels No Guilt

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Photo Courtesy of TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty



Scam Jungle

New York City is often called the Concrete Jungle. While this label is meant to be a deterrent for people who want to move there, there is a thimble of truth in the moniker. There are wolves who will eat another human alive if given the chance, without so much as a semblance of guilt over what they have done. Such is the case with Anna Sorokin or as many in Manhattan knew her; Anna Delvey.  Miss Sorokin was found guilty by a Manhattan jury but still, she showed no remorse for her “big scam” as the judge called it.

Scam is a nice word for what Sorokin did. She posed as Anna Delvey, a German heiress. Her cover story was that she had come to New York in order to start a new venture, a nightclub that would also double as an art gallery. The concept took the breath away from those who she told, while not unheard of in a city filled with dreamers, Sorokin’s alleged wealth made this dream one that could come to fruition.

Before that could happen, Miss Sorokin would work in the fashion world, where she would perfect her heiress character. The character was a mixture of haughty and needy, smart as a whip but financially uneducated. Sincere but always hiding something. Maybe she summed it up best when she told The New York Times “I’m not a good person.”

Purple Paris and NYC

Before she was Anna Delvey, German heiress to a great fortune, she was Anna Sorokin. Born in Russia, her family emigrated to Eschweiler, Germany. Growing up, Sorokin seemed to want something new. She was never satisfied with the life  her parents were gave her. At the age of 19, she decided a career in fashion was where her future was heading and took off for Paris.

It was in the City of Lights that Sorokin began to evolve into her Delvey character. She began working for Purple, a fashion and art magazine. It was the first time she used the name and it seemed to be a big hit with her coworkers. And while she claims that it is her mother’s maiden name, no one in her family has backed up this assertion. While on an assignment for Purple, she came to New York City and fell in love with the opulence and grandeur of the city.

This was cathartic for her as well, as she was coming out of a relationship and didn’t have many friends to confide in. NYC offered not only a change of scenery but also a chance for her to make lasting connections with people who liked her. Or at least liked they the persona she showed them.

Handing Out Tips Like Candy

One of the ways Sorokin was able to get away with the con for as long as she did was because she befriended the right people along the way. Most people would try to get in the good graces of the CEO or owner of a business or in the case of Sorokin, the hotels where she was staying. That was not the route she went though, instead, she would talk to the staff and hand them $100 tips as a token of her appreciation. In return, she got ears that would listen to her and food made especially for her, despite it not being on the menu. This was one way she began to ascend the social ladder and make people believe her story about having a ton of money coming to her.

Neffarati Davis was a concierge at 11 Howard, one of the upscale boutique hotels Sorokin stayed at, and was one of the people befriended by the alleged heiress. It started simple enough, Sorokin asked Davis what the best restaurants in the area were. After Davis gave her recommendations, Sorokin handed over one of the infamous tips. This endeared her to Davis and the rest of the staff who were also given the big tips. Davis found that Sorokin would visit her often during her stay, which was for longer than 30 days, a rare event in the city.

The relationship turned into a friendship, with Sorokin asking Davis to join her for dinner on many occasions. While Davis admits the places they ate would be out of her price range, Sorokin picked up the tab for their meals and drinks most of the time. It was the kind of life she wanted and was working for, being handed to her by this cool girl. It was almost too good to be true. Mostly because it was.

Tab and Getaway

Another of Sorokin’s new friends was Rachel Deloache Williams, a photo editor for Vanity Fair. Williams was not the typical friend that hung around the “heiress,” she had a job that was fashion adjacent but not in fashion. She was also middle class by her own admission. But like Davis, she soon found herself swept up in the world of Delvey (aka Sorokin) and rarely having to pay, which was an added bonus for her. In Williams’ own words, “As an added bonus, she paid for everything.” Everything hummed along nicely.

The friendship between Sorokin and Williams was a yin and yang. While Sorokin was out there and over the top, Williams says she was down to Earth and conservative. “She was audacious where I was reserved, and irreverent where I was polite. We balanced each other: I normalized her eccentric behavior, as she challenged my sense of propriety and dared me to have fun.” A recipe for a great friendship and fun adventures with a person you like.

Friends in Exotic Place

And that is what was beginning to take shape. It was no surprise when Sorokin convinced Williams to go on vacation with her. As a German citizen, Sorokin was not allowed to stay in the United States on a permanent basis, and would often have to leave and return at regular intervals. In May of 2017, Sorokin and Williams, along with a few other people took off for Marrakech. It was a wild vacation that suited Sorokin’s personality to a T.

When they arrived, their hotel sent a limo to pick them up. The suite they were put in was top of the line and seemed to be reserved for the VIP guests that stayed with them. Sorokin was supposed to foot the bill for the hotel, and the rest of the guests only needed to worry about paying for their own food and drinks. That was the plan. But as is often the case with Sorokin, things did not go according to plan.

The Wolf Of Manhattan

While she was working on building friendships, Sorokin was also trying to secure funds for her art nightclub. While she stayed at 11 Howard, the fake heiress leaned on Davis to act as the secretary for the up and coming art nightclub. Since Sorokin was buying her dinner, and it could easily be explained away to her bosses, Davis went along with it. She would help schedule appointments and take messages for her “friend” without complaints. Some of the names Sorokin was meeting with were the brightest, best, and most famous in the finance and real estate worlds.

Joel Cohen was one of the men Sorokin was meeting with. Cohen was famous for being the prosecutor of Jordan “The Wolf of Wall Street” Belfort, but he had left behind his legal life and started working for a top finance firm in Manhattan that deals with funding for large real estate purchases. After speaking with Sorokin, he referred her to Andy Lance. This would prove to be the beginning of the end for the faux heiress.

When Sorokin had her meeting with Lance, he put down some conditions on her. The first thing he wanted was proof she had the assets she claimed to have. This was one of the first major missteps in her scheme to defraud the contacts she was making. She allegedly produced fake bank statements showing the money.

Big Bank Big Problems

At the time, Lance was excited to be working with a dynamic young woman and dollar signs of a fat commission danced in his head. Yet, he felt the need to warn his new client not to embarrass the firm.

After assurances that the woman he knew as Anna Delvey was serious and ready to make this happen, Lance sent out the profile to some of the financial institutions he worked with on a regular basis, the email read in part: “Our client Anna Delvey is undertaking a very exciting redevelopment of 281 Park Avenue South, backed by a marquee team for this type of venue and space.” 281 Park Avenue is owned by the same man who owns Sorokin’s temporary home, 11 Howard. A detail that seems to get lost among the myriad of accusations that have come out about her.

Lance did his best to ease concerns about Sorokin’s finances. In an email to City National Bank and Fortress Investment Group, Lance explained the situation as he understood it; “her personal assets, which are quite substantial, are located outside the US, some of them in trust with UBS outside the US.” This seemed to work as City National Bank was willing to move forward with the loan application process, all Sorokin needed to do was turn over proof of assets or rather have UBS send over a proof of assets form.

Covering Her Tracks

Even though it was protocol, it seemed to freak Sorokin out. Nonetheless, the loan officer at City National Bank received an email from Peter W. Hennecke, which did not include anything the bank asked for. Hennecke wrote, “Please use these for your projections, for now, I’ll send the physical statements on Monday.”  This was not good enough for the higher-ups at City National Bank and they began asking Sorokin questions about it. Her explanation was Hennecke was the family’s business manager and as such he handled all of the financial details for them. With no further communication from the family’s “business manager,” City Bank turned down the loan request. Her dream of securing the $25 million for the art nightclub was fading but not dead.

Fortress Investment Group stepped in and began the process of organizing its assets for her. The fund managers were high on the concept, and dollar signs danced in their eyes as she talked about expanded the venture around the world. With her alleged assets, they wouldn’t be out of any money and would be on the ground floor of an exciting venture that would potentially be worth 10 times the amount they put into it. An agreement was drawn up, with one provision that would ultimately make the deal fall apart and lead to Sorokin’s downfall.

Everything Unravels

Davis knew something was amiss one night at an expensive dinner. The waiter had brought the check to them, and as usual, Sorokin handed over her credit card. As they waited for him to bring it back, the ladies chatted about the nightclub and a vacation Sorokin had coming up. The heiress asked Davis if she wanted to come along. Since it was last minute and very expensive, Davis turned down the invitation. Which proved to be a smart move on her part.

When the waiter reappeared, he had an odd expression on his face. He informed Sorokin that her credit card had been declined. Without missing a beat, the fake heiress pulled out 12 other credit cards, as well as a financial document, and handed them to the waiter. Davis, being as savvy as she is, decided to move money from her savings account in case the worst happened. The check which was more than $300 wasn’t as high as a normal dinner out with her friend but it would put a dent in her finances. Still, after all of the nights out that Sorokin had paid for, it was her turn to pay. That was how Davis reasoned it. The waiter returned with all of the cards, each of them had been declined. Davis handed hers over, and Sorokin swore she would repay her.

Repaying people and banks is not a strong suit of the fraudster known as Anna Sorokin or Anna Delvey.

Photo Courtesy of Jess Hawk
Money Doesn’t Go On Vacation

Meanwhile in Morocco, DeLoache Williams was enjoying her time in Marrakech, which consisted mostly of shopping and drinking. Given that she had a relatively modest salary as compared to her travel companions, DeLoache Williams was trying to not spend a lot of money. One day when they came back from a particularly fun day at the shops, there were three men in suits from the hotel waiting for them. In particular, they wanted to speak with Sorokin.

Hotel policy demanded a credit card be put on file when a reservation is made. This policy was not enforced when Sorokin made her reservation. They wanted one to be put on the record right then and there. As the noose tightened around her neck, Sorokin swore to the men a wire transfer was being sent over to the hotel and was probably already in the hotel’s bank account. It was enough to persuade them to not continue with the line of questioning for the moment.

Money Rules, Truth Drools

As the trip went on though, there were more angry whispers between Sorokin and the hotel executives. The wire transfer never materialized, and the management team threatened to remove Sorokin and her guests unless a credit card was put on file. After Sorokin coarsed her, DeLoache Williams reluctantly handed over her American Express Card. At first, it was declined, AmEx called her to make sure she had authorized the charge. With a rock in the pit of her stomach, DeLoache Williams said she had. She later wrote in Vanity Fair, “And most importantly, I was told that my card would not be charged.” But she was but she brushed it off as typical hotel procedures;

 

“I went to the concierge desk to see why the “block” was registering as actual charges. I was told that credits for the same totals would appear in my account. I’ve been to many hotels and was familiar with that process: the way, when you check in, your card is often pre-charged for some amount that’s later credited back to your account. I rationalized this as the same thing.”

Repayment Not Remitted

Sorokin swore she would pay DeLoache Williams back as soon as she sorted through the money mess. Something inside of DeLoache Williams  knew she was on the hook for the $62,000. Sure enough, despite assurances that the money was on the way, DeLoache Williams only recouped $5,000 of the money. After going to the police and being told there was nothing they could do for her since the incident took place abroad, she felt defeated. Sorokin had depleted her savings and put her on the road to ruined credit. All hope for vengeance was not lost, however.

As Sorokin’s friendships with DeLoache Williams and Davis unraveled, so too were her financial prospects. Fortress Investment Group, while giddy with excitement over the art nightclub business, they still wanted to check on these assets, even if the assets were in the family’s name. They told Sorokin, she needed to give them $100,000. She got a loan from City National Bank and sent it to them with confidence. It was just an asset check. Then she would get the $25 million she wanted. Or so she thought.

Banking on Charges

Fortress was sending someone over to Sweden to verify the assets. Sorokin asked for a refund with no explanation given. They refunded her $55,000, which she deposited into her CitiBank account. This gave her an idea on how to keep her lavish lifestyle up without having to work.

When an infusion of cash was needed, she deposited bad checks into her bank account. CitiBank has alleged she wrote more than $160,000 in bad checks and took out more than $70,000 of that money. Sorokin took the scam on the road and did it with Signature Bank. This time it was less successful, she was only able to get $8,200 from them. It was enough to get to California for a “business meeting.” It was during this time everything came crashing down around her.

Coast to Coast Trouble

During this time, 11 Howard managers grew frustrated with the delay in getting payment from her. They warned Sorokin she would be evicted if payment was not received. According to The Cut Sorokin threatened to buy domains with the names of the managers and force them to pay her. When she returned, she was locked out of her room. She moved to a hotel down the street, The Beckerman.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The Truth Comes Out

Management at The Beckerman also locked her out of the room due to unpaid charges. Davis began having doubts about the art nightclub, something wasn’t sitting right with her about the whole ordeal. Aby Rosen who owned the property Sorokin had allegedly been able to secure for it, also owned 11 Howard. One day Rosen’s son Charlie came by and was talking to him when he dropped a truth bomb on her. He asked why would his father would have a business associate stay in an “ordinary room” instead of a penthouse. Davis confronted her friend with the new information. She did not expect Sorokin’s response; “You ever have someone do so many favors for you, you kind of just want to pay them back in silence?” The noose around Sorokin was tightening.

She called Deloach Williams and then her trainer because she was homeless. They agreed to meet with her, and they tried to stage an intervention to no avail. None of them knew the police were closing in on her.

Nowhere to go but Rikers

The banks she had defrauded had turned over the evidence to the police. Investigators began to investigate the crimes. They had enough evidence to charge her with several felonies involving financial crimes. Sorokin remained defiant. Despite the litany of evidence against her, Sorokin did not take a plea deal. After all, she didn’t do anything wrong in her view. Sorokin told The New York Times, “The thing is, I’m not sorry, I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything. I regret the way I went about certain things.” She doesn’t elaborate on what things she would have done differently.

The fake heiress, aka Anna Sorokin, aka Anna Delvey, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. She is currently serving her sentence on Rikers Island, as seen on her Instagram feed. A true socialite til the end.