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Young wannabe socialite scams high-flyers out of tens of thousands

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FROM the outside she looked like just another young, ambitious, high-flyer who bought her way into the luxurious world of rich socialites with family money.

There was nothing glaringly obvious about Anna Delvey that would tip off her new friends to the elaborate scam she was running.

Anna, now 27, played the part of a mysterious German heiress with dreams of opening an extravagant club in the middle of New York. She played her role so well that she duped some of the world’s top influencers, with her high fashion and seemingly careless attitude towards money blinding them to her lies.

She was known for dropping large amounts of cash without a second thought and tipping hotel employees, taxis and restaurants hundreds of dollars at the drop of a hat.

A deeper look into Anna’s jaw-dropping web of lies published by The Cut reveals that, though she wasn’t a very affirmable person, people were always quick to please her because of her spending habits.

“People would fight to take her packages upstairs,” Neffatari Davis, a concierge at 11 Howard hotel where Anna stayed, said.

“Fight, because you knew you were getting $100.”

Anna also spent tens of thousands of dollars on luxury hotels, personal trainers and extravagant dinner parties and holidays for her friends.

She built herself a life of excess and by the time it was discovered she didn’t have the money to actually fund it, she had left behind a path of destruction.

She cheated banks, wrote bad cheques, created a fake financial adviser and conned her new friends out of money to keep up her heiress facade.

In reality, Anna’s real last name was Sorokin and she was born in Russia in 1991.

She moved to Germany in 2007 with her family when she was 16.

Her father was not a German business tycoon like so many of her acquaintances were lead to believe, but rather he was a truck driver who later opened a heating and cooling business.

Anna eventually moved to London where she attended fashion school, then back to Berlin where she interned at a public relations firm.

It was when she moved to Paris after securing an internship at Purple magazine that she changed her name to Anna Delvey.

There were a number of red flags that should have brought Anna undone, but people were so blinded by her confidence in her own story that they chose to believe her — flaunting her supposed wealth also helped.

One of these flags was that she presented herself as a wealthy German heiress bur didn’t actually speak a lot of German — though a lot of people chalked it up to her being secretive about the true source of her family’s wealth.

Another crack in her facade was that she only ever paid in cash — we would later find out this was because she had banked $160,000 ($AU212,000) worth of bad cheques and managed to withdraw $70,000 ($AU92,700) in cash before it was discovered.

She would constantly be asking her friends to book hotels, flights and taxis on their credit cards, claiming there were issues with her bank and she would pay them back.

Davis, who has become good friends with Anna during her time at the hotel, recalled a time when they were out to dinner and she was forced to foot the $286 bill after 12 of her credit cards were declined.

“The waiter went back to his station and began entering the numbers. There were like 12, and I know the guy tried them all,” she said.

“He was trying it and then shaking his head. And then I started to sweat, because I knew the bill was mine.”

Though, this was one of the rare times that Anna came good on her pay back promise, giving Davis three times the amount in cash the next day.

She used a similar tactic to fund her lengthy stays at up-market hotels and booking out fancy party venues, assuring them a wire transfer was on its way. When the money wouldn’t arrive Anna would blame the delay on her wealth being tied up overseas.

Eventually it all caught up with her, starting when Chinese art collector Michael Xufu Huang was contacted by the restaurant where Anna had hosted her birthday party to say that she had not paid her bill.

Huang had gone on a trip with Anna, which she swore she would pay him back for, and the restaurant was calling him to see if he had her contact details as they couldn’t get onto her.

“They were like, ‘Do you have her contact info? Because she didn’t pay her bill’,” he said.

“Then I realised, ‘Oh my God, she is not legit’.”

Soon after, Anna was kicked out of her $400 ($AU530) a night room at the 11 Howard hotel for not providing a working credit card to pay for her $30,000 ($AU39,700) bill.

Seemingly unconcerned, she checked into another hotel where she racked up an $11,500 ($AU15,200) bill, all the while continuing to take lavish holidays and work on getting a $22 million bank loan to fund her plan to build a private arts club.

When she was eventually kicked out of that hotel she moved onto a new one. By this time her reputation had caught up with her and she was only there for two nights before being kicked out.

She was eventually arrested an a number of charges including grand larceny and theft of services, to which she pleaded not guilty.

Anna rejected a plea deal in January 2018 offering her three to nine years in jail in exchange for a grand larceny guilty plea.

She now faces up to 15 years behind bars for her elaborate scam if she is convicted.

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