The story of Anna Sorokin It is the tale of a young woman who decided to be someone else and became that person – but at a huge cost.
Sorokin called Anna “Fake Heiress,” “Soho scammer,” and “Soho grifter,” and pretended to be a German heiress with a $67 million trust, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors argued that Sorokin used that fake identity to deceive Manhattan’s elite, gaining access to parties, nightclubs, and exclusive hotels until her deception surfaced. Prosecutors alleged it seized hotels, restaurants, a private jet operator and banks from about $275,000 during a 10-month wave.
So who is the real Sorokin?
“This is a loaded question,” Sorokin told ABC News’s senior national affairs correspondent Deborah Roberts. “I would like to show the world that I am not that stupid and greedy person they portrayed me as.”
Watch the full story on “20/20” Friday at 10 PM ET on ABC
The 30-year-old was convicted in May 2019 of eight counts, including grand larceny, attempted grand larceny and theft of services. She was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, a $24,000 fine and nearly $200,000 in restitution.
She served just under four years and was released on good behavior in February.
In fact, Sorokin, who is Russian-born and lived in Germany, hails from a middle-class family. She arrived in New York City in 2013 in her twenties. Ultimately, Sorokin convinced people, from friends to financial institutions, that she was a wealthy socialite and a travel pioneer, who picks up tabs and often pays cash — living the glamorous, expensive life she seems to flaunt on Instagram and Twitter.
As for the fake name “Delphi,” Sorokin said, “I just came up with it.”
Sorokin’s plan when she moved to Manhattan was to create a high-end, members-only arts club, according to her former defense attorney Todd Spodick.
“Arts, fashion, entertainment, music, restaurants, everything in one place,” he said. “The name of this was the Anna Delphi Foundation, ADF.”
But Sorokin said she never claimed to be an heir and never claimed it came from money. She said she “always knew” she couldn’t afford a lavish lifestyle on planes, knew she couldn’t pay back money she said she borrowed from others, but said she was “trying to fix that” before her arrest in 2017.
Spudk, her defense attorney at the trial, argued that Sorokin had done nothing wrong, and that she simply took advantage of a system, easy to seduce with glitter and magic, and told little white lies along the way.
“Anna intended to do things the right way,” he said, “but she couldn’t open those doors without doing something gray to open the door.” “Everyone creates their own version that they want the world to see…Everyone lies when it’s convenient for them…And Anna did the same. She can’t be 100% honest because no one will listen to her.”
“I had no fraudulent intent,” Sorokin said. “And I think that’s what really ought to count.”
Her ex-girlfriend Rachel Delauch Williams said she was among the many people Sorokin cheated on. Williams recounted her experience in an interview with ABC News as well as in her new book, “My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress.”
Williams said she met Sorokin at a Manhattan nightclub. At the time, the 28-year-old was a photo editor at Vanity Fair. She said her first impression of Sorokin was that she was “a bit gay”.
“People have asked [me]Were there red flags? ‘ Williams said. ‘I never asked if it was who she said she was. I had no reason to and would never have thought that way.”
Williams said Sorokin often picked up the tab, treating her to sumptuous dinners and $300 private fitness sessions and infrared sauna treatments.
Then, in the spring of 2017, Williams said Sorokin offered her an all-expenses-paid trip to Morocco. But on the trip together, Sorokin’s credit cards are interrupted under mysterious circumstances.
“I think they gave me [the] The impression is that they authorized my card beforehand or something,” Sorokin said.
Fearing she would be stranded in a foreign country, Williams said she agreed to offer her credit cards — her own and her corporate card — when asked as a temporary backup, even though she couldn’t afford them.
“[The hotel] He said to me: Do you have a credit card? So she looked at Anna and said, “Can we use it now?”
After she left Morocco and returned to the United States, Williams said she learned that the total amount was $62,000.
“She owed me more money than I earned in a year,” she said.
Sorokin told ABC News that she intended to refund Williams even though she knew she didn’t have the money yet. But over time, Williams panicked.
“I’m late paying my rent,” Williams said. “I’m late on my credit card payments.”
Unrelated to the Morocco trip, Sorokin was arrested in July 2017 for service theft when she couldn’t pay the bills for her upscale Manhattan restaurant and hotel. After being indicted in court, Sorokin set off for California.
Meanwhile, Williams, realizing that she had been cheated, went to the police and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. After Sorokin missed a court date, Williams ended up helping investigators in a stinging operation that eventually led to Sorokin’s second arrest in October 2017 in Malibu, California.
When she was captured, Sorokin was delivered back to New York City and taken to Rikers Island Prison, where she was held for 19 months.
According to her former defense attorney, Sorokin was offered a plea bargain of three to nine years in prison to settle all criminal liability, but she rejected it.
“I wanted to go to court,” she said. “It felt like the only way to tell my story.”
Williams testified against Sorokin at her 2019 trial, and said it was the most shocking moment of her life.
“I understand that the word shock is relative,” Williams said. “Having someone to whom I had so well-intentioned become just a liar and intentionally hurt me was very painful.”
Although Sorokin was found guilty of eight charges, she was acquitted on two, including the most serious charge against her of attempting to steal more than $1 million from a bank. She was also acquitted of the theft charge relating to Williams’ $62,000 credit card bill, which Williams described as “extremely devastating.”
After investigating Morocco’s resort fee, Williams’ credit card company forgave a significant portion of its debt, though it was still required to repay some of the expenses it incurred.
When Sorokin heard the verdict, she said she decided to “deal with the consequences”.
“What, am I supposed to break down and cry?” She said. “They’re, whatever, 50, 100 cameras in my face? So I don’t know. It’s just, like — it’s really hard for me to, like, cry on demand.”
Sorokin sold the rights to her story to Netflix and Shonda Rimes, but since New York state law does not allow criminals to profit from their crimes, the money from the deal had to be used first to pay compensation to its victims.
After her release from prison in February, Sorokin is back on Instagram, featuring photos of herself drinking champagne from a clawed tub and apparently living the good life.
Sorokin is now back in prison, is currently in the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and may face deportation. But she is determined to stay in the United States
So what’s next for Anna Sorokin?
“I think it still has to be seen,” she said. “I’m just trying to rewrite my story.”
ABC News’ Katherine Thorbeck and Matt Knox contributed to this report