The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

She convinced Manhattan’s elite that she was a wealthy heiress. Then the truth emerged.

Anna Sorokin is led away after being sentenced in Manhattan on Thursday. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)
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Anna Sorokin found her mark, and her marks, in the elite corners of Manhattan and for years crafted an elaborate backstory of being a wealthy German heiress worth tens of millions of dollars.

She was “Anna Delvey” to her socialite friends, Gucci-draped in upscale hotel bars, enjoying a luxe lifestyle — by swindling lenders and unsuspecting friends.

On Thursday, she apologized “for the mistakes I made” before being sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, the Associated Press reported. Judge Diane Kiesel said she was “stunned by the depth of the defendant’s deception.”

Sorokin, 28, was found guilty last month of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny after a month-long trial, according to the AP. Prosecutors said she bilked people and businesses out of $275,000.

Sorokin was a Russian immigrant who moved to Germany, not the daughter of an oil baron or diplomat, as she claimed. But she was a talented charmer and ambitious woman with a Rich Kids of Instagram-worthy social media presence.

Sorokin was a regular at upscale hotels, showering concierge staffers and Uber drivers with crisp $100 bills, according to a profile in New York magazine, quickly becoming a mainstay in circles running thick with architects and artists.

The cracks started to show once two hotels accused her of not paying her bills. Then, after Sorokin deposited two bad checks, she was arrested in California and brought back to New York, according to the profile.

She also sought $22 million to build a private arts empire of installations and exhibits, prosecutors said. The loan fell through, the AP reported, but Sorokin did land a $100,000 loan that she failed to repay.

Her attorney, Todd Spodek, said his client sought to repay her significant debts. But she had to buy time. “Fake it until you make it,” Spodek said during opening statements in Sorokin’s trial last month, the New York Times reported. “Anna had to live by it.”

Spodek did not respond to a request for comment. His legal strategy was to acknowledge the artificiality and credulity of New York social elites taken in by tales of wealth, “glitz and glamour,” the Times reported.

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Prosecutors accused Sorokin of deliberate swindling, including an alleged promise to a friend for an all-expenses-paid trip to Morocco that left the friend with a $62,000 bill. She was acquitted of that charge. Prosecutors, however, made other charges stick.

“She stole from banks,” state prosecutor Kaegan Mays-Williams said, according to the Times. “She stole from hotels. She stole from friends. She tried to steal from a hedge fund.”

But things are looking up for Sorokin, relatively. There are two competing projects associated with her.

One, based on the New York magazine profile, will be produced for Netflix, and Lena Dunham will helm an adaptation of the story for HBO.