How A ‘Fake Heiress’ Con Artist Fooled New York’s Elite

How A ‘Fake Heiress’ Con Artist Fooled New York’s Elite

It sounds like a story straight out of a film – and, soon, it will be. With news that a major Hollywood movie is to be made about the ‘fake heiress’ Anna Delvey, here’s how the wannabe New York socialite scammed banks, friends and hotels out of millions of dollars to fund her lavish Instagram lifestyle…

On the outside Anna Delvey seemed like a rich, young socialite – a mysterious German heiress living a luxury life in NYC, funded by her family’s money. She had a seemingly endless supply of cash, lived in upmarket hotels, ate at the city’s best restaurants, shopped at the coolest stores and attended all the fashion crowd parties. She had ambitious dreams of launching her own extravagant members’ club in the middle of Manhattan.

But all that turned out to be an elaborate scam, and one that landed the now 27-year-old in prison. She rejected a plea deal in January this year, which offered her three to nine years in jail in exchange for a grand larceny guilty plea, and now awaits trial, facing up to 15 years behind bars if she’s convicted for her fraudulent actions.

Intrigued? So is Hollywood. Film producers have already come knocking and, according to Delvey’s friend, she’s hoping Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie will play her in the upcoming major production. Insiders have tipped Sofia Coppola – who also brought true crime story The Bling Ring to the big screen – as a possible director.

All the media interest surrounding Delvey kicked off last week, after her former friend Neffatari Davis (known as Neff) gave an exclusive interview to The Cut, revealing insider details about the case. In the fascinating piece, Davis explains how she was working as a concierge at the boutique hotel 11 Howard when Delvey, a guest at the hotel, befriended her – showing up with an “ambiguous” accent, giant Céline sunnies and free-flowing $100 bills. Soon, she was sending the hotel staff cases of 1975 Dom Pérignon.

“She ran that place,” Davis said. “You know how Rihanna walks out with wine glasses? That was Anna. And they let her. Bye, Ms. Delvey…

It didn’t take long for Davis to get sucked in – enjoying extravagant gifts, expensive dinners and weekends away, all courtesy of Delvey. She spent cash like she couldn't rid herself of it fast enough. "She gave to everyone,” said Davis. “Uber drivers, $100 cash, meals. You know how you reach for your credit card? She wouldn’t let me.”

But Davis soon began to notice a number of red flags. Despite claiming to be German, Delvey didn’t speak the language well. She only ever paid in cash, and on the one occasion she did attempt to use a credit card, over 12 got declined. She began to ask friends to book hotels, flights and taxis with their own credit cards, claiming there were issues with her bank and promising to pay them back.

Delvey was extremely convincing, but the final crack in her façade came when the 11 Howard hotel addressed a problem with her account. Despite being repeatedly asked by hotel management, she still hadn’t given them a working credit card and, at $400 a night, the charges were continuing to mount. After repeated warnings, they changed the lock code on her room, placed her belongings in storage, and kicked her out.

Things started to rapidly deteriorate. Following her eviction, she jetted out to an opulent resort in Morocco, frequented by celebrities such as Khloé Kardashian, and stayed in a $7,000-a-night riad with a private butler. She took a videographer, personal trainer and another friend (Vanity Fair Photo Editor Rachel DeLoache Williams), but her credit card troubles soon became apparent once again. Unable to pay the hotel, Delvey begged DeLoache to cover the $62,000 bill with promises to pay her back. DeLoache never saw the money again (read her shocking story in full here).

So just how did the wannabe socialite manage to fool the New York elite for so long? Behind the lavish lifestyle she posted on Instagram – designer clothes, exotic trips in private jets and glamorous nights out in the city’s most exclusive clubs – was a huge financial scam.

The charm that she had used to pull wool over the eyes of friends also happened to work on banks. Delvey's unpaid hotel bills and debts to rich socialite friends were merely the start of a whole web of fraudulent activity, one that began to unravel in November 2016, after she submitted false documents claiming a net worth of €60m in Swiss accounts to City National Bank, in pursuit of a $22m loan to fund her Soho House Group-inspired venture.

It turned out Delvey had already deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars in phony cheques (estimated to be around $275,000) to various other banks, withdrawing the money in cash or syphoning it off into other accounts before the fake deposits could be discovered and reversed. Her lies had finally caught up with her.

While Delvey’s full story is yet to be told, the world is starting to discover who she really is. Born Anna Sorokin, she grew up in Russia. She attended sixth form in Germany before taking a place at London’s Central Saint Martins to study fashion. She landed an internship at Purple magazine in Paris, where she assumed her new pseudo-heiress identity and surname Delvey, before moving to NYC. Her father is not a German business tycoon, as she led many to believe, but a truck driver who later opened a heating and cooling business.

More interesting yet is Delvey’s explanation of her incredulous actions. “I was never trying to be a socialite,” she told The Cut from prison. “I had dinners, but they were work dinners. I wanted to be taken seriously.

“If I really wanted the money, I would have better and faster ways to get some,” she complained. “Resilience is hard to come by, but not capital.”

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