Elegant Russian born fraudster Anna Sorokin, 28, is found GUILTY of fleecing NY society
Russian born Anna Sorokin who took on the name Anna Delvey and faked being a German heiress to swindle $275K from friends, Thursday was convicted on seven counts of fraud and faces 15-years in jail
Fraud trial became a catwalk of designer clothing for fraudster who variously claimed to be German solar energy heiress or a Russian oil billionaire’s daughter
Her insistence on making court appearances on clad in designer clothing infuriated judge who told her ‘This is not a fashion show’, after she turned her trial into a fashion runway
New York jury found Anna Sorokin guilty on Thursday after three-week trial, convicted her of grand larceny and theft of services charges
Prosecutors said Sorokin’s odyssey prior to her October 2017 arrest, swindled friends, banks and hotels out of $275,000 in a 10-month period
She was accused of peddling bogus bank statements in her quest for a $22 million loan for a private arts club
Sorokin, aka Anna Delvey back then, claimed to be a wealthy German heiress with a $60 million fortune in Europe – Bogus bank statements showed a $60m fortune with Anna depositing fake checks
She faces up to 15 years behind bars, sentencing is scheduled for May
Fake heiress Anna Sorokin appeared in court ahead of verdict. Sorokin was found guilty of grand larceny and theft of services charges
Anna Sorokin had leaves the courtroom during jury deliberations in her trial at New York State Supreme Court, in New York on Thursday. She returned to the courtroom after the jury sent a note
Anna Sorokin and her attorney Todd Spodek listen to the jury foreman during the announcement of the verdict in her trial at New York State Supreme Court on Thursday – ‘There’s a little bit of Anna in all of us. This is the life she chose to live,’ Spodek said after the verdict
‘As proven at trial, Anna Sorokin committed real white-collar felonies over the course of her lengthy masquerade,’ said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr in a statement.
‘I thank the jury for its service in this complex trial, as well as my Office’s prosecutors and investigators for their meticulous investigation and resolve to ensure that Sorokin faces real justice for her many thefts and lies,’ Vance said.
Prosecutors said Sorokin lived in luxury New York hotel rooms that she couldn’t afford, promised a friend an all-expenses trip to Morocco and then stiffed her with the $62,000 bill and peddled bogus bank statements in her quest for a $22 million loan for a private arts club.
During closing arguments on Tuesday, prosecutors portrayed Sorokin as a profligate con artist, while her lawyer insisted she was an aspiring businesswoman taken in by New York’s extravagance.
Her defense attorney, Todd Spodek, insisted Sorokin had been ‘buying time’ and planned all along to settle her six-figure debts, portraying her as an entrepreneur who got in over her head. He compared her at one point to Frank Sinatra, saying ‘they both created their own opportunities’ in New York.
‘There’s a little bit of Anna in all of us,’ Spodek said. ‘This is the life she chose to live.’
Sorokin had ambitious business plans to build a private arts club in New York and that she was ‘persistent and she was determined to make her business a reality’, according to her attorney.
Sorokin gave varying accounts of where her wealth actually came from, according to her acquaintances. She told some her dad was a Russian oil billionaire, others were under the impression her well heeled German parents were in the solar energy business
Ann Sorokin is led out of the court in handcuffs after a jury found her guilty on all counts on Thursday
Anna Sorokin will remain in custody until her May 9 sentencing. After her conviction she faces up to 15 years in prison
She may have led an unethical and unorthodox lifestyle, he added, but Sorokin was ‘enabled every step of the way by a system that favors people with money.’
In trying to prove Sorokin’s intent, Assistant District Attorney Catherine McCaw said Sorokin told ‘lie after lie’ to prolong a life of luxury she couldn’t afford, providing forged financial records and identifications to banks.
She lived out of ritzy hotels on an overdrawn account, dined at the finest restaurants and even hired a personal trainer who charged $300 a session, McCaw said.
Sorokin not only assumed a different identity for herself but created a team of ‘imaginary’ assistants, McCaw said, a ruse that lent credence to her efforts to expand her credit. There was, for instance, an accountant who didn’t exist whom Sorokin blamed for delays in wire transfers.
‘All of the defendant’s wire transfers are merely a figment of her imagination,’ McCaw said.
‘These are not white lies. These are lies that help you understand that the defendant, in fact, had criminal intent in this case.’
Grace to grass: Sorokin, aka Anna Delvey, has been on trial for the past month on grand larceny and theft of services charges after swindling friends, banks and hotels out of $275,000 in a 10-month span.
Sorokin donned this white sheer Zara dress on Wednesday as the jury continued to deliberate in her case
Sorokin was born in Russia in 1991 and moved to Germany in 2007 when she was 16 with her younger brother and parents.
Her father had worked as a truck driver and later as an executive at a transport company until it became insolvent in 2013. He then opened a heating-and-cooling business specializing in energy-efficient devices.
After moving to London to attend Central Saint Martins fashion school, Sorokin returned to Berlin and interned in the fashion department of a public relations firm.
She then relocated to Paris where she secured a coveted internship at the French fashion magazine Purple. It’s believed to be around this time that she changed her name from Sorokin to Delvey.
Sorokin climbed her way to the top and becoming a darling of the New York social scene was not so difficult.
Sorokin was already brushing shoulders with rich people in the years before she came to New York and started dazzling Manhattan’s social elite.
She rubbed shoulders with the fashion elite at Paris Fashion Week as early as 2013 and was frequently spotted at London hottest in-crowd nightspots.
Those who knew of her recalled seeing her at a party in Berlin in 2015 during which Sorokin told guests she had just flown in on a private jet.
As a result of her internship at Purple in Paris, some noted that she appeared to be close friends with its editor-in-chief Oliver Zahm.
By the time Sorokin arrived in New York in early 2016, she seemingly had the social connections to make a name for herself, as well as a designer-clad wardrobe that exuded wealth.
At the time, she had 40,000 followers on Instagram and was regularly pictured at events and parties with well-to-do people.
People around her say they Sorokin quickly went about proving herself to be an impossibly rich heiress who had plans to shake up New York’s art world.
She quickly went about proving herself to be an impossibly rich heiress who had plans to shake up New York’s art world.
She made a show of proving she belonged and would regularly be decked out in her now signature Celine glasses, Gucci sandals and high-end buys from Net-a-Porter and Elyse Walker.
Sorokin rented a $400-a-night room for several months at Manhattan’s expensive 11 Howard hotel. Concierge at the hotel, including Neff Davis who would later become friends with the ‘heiress’, were gobsmacked when Sorokin would pass out $100 tips to them and Uber drivers.
She would also splash out on shopping sprees in luxury boutiques, expensive personal training sessions and beautician appointments.
The socialite elite were drawn to her and she would regularly host large dinners for celebrities, artists , CEOs and the like at the lavish Le Coucou restaurant in SoHo.
At one such dinner, Sorokin’s concierge friend Neff Davis said she was star struck to find herself sitting next to Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin.
She also once hired a PR firm to organize her birthday party at Sadelle’s in SoHo. It would later emerged that she never paid the bill. It is unclear what the cost of the party was in the end.
During her stay at Howard 11, Sorokin struck up a friendship with Davis when she arrived at the concierge desk asking for recommendations for the best food in SoHo.
In an interview with The Cut last year, Davis recalled one instance during their friendship where they went for dinner at SoHo’s Sant Ambroeus. Davis said she was forced to pay the $286 bill when Sorokin’s 12 credit cards 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.’
She said Sorokin paid her back triple the amount in cash the following day.
Another friend, Rachel Deloache Williams, testified during Sorokin’s trial that she was under the impression she was a German solar panel heiress.
Williams, who also wrote about her ordeal in Vanity Fair where she worked as a photo editor, said they had met in February 2016 and were friends for 18 months.
She said Delvey often paid for the pair to go to infared saunas in the East Village and they also dined together and worked out with celebrity trainer Kacy Duke, which Sorokin also paid for.
Sorokin [photo] arrived in New York in 2016, and quickly went about proving herself to be an impossibly rich heiress with plans to shake up New York’s art world
When she arrived in New York in 2016, she quickly went about proving herself to be an impossibly rich heiress who had plans to shake up New York’s art world.
Sorokin gave varying accounts of where her wealth supposedly came from, according to her acquaintances.
She told some that her father was a Russian oil billionaire or a diplomat to Russia. Others were under the impression that her parents were high up in the solar energy business.
In reality Sorokin did not have a cent to her name, according to prosecutors. Her father is a former truck driver in Russia who now runs a heating and cooling business.
Sorokin managed to avoid suspicion among her wealthy friends in New York for months.
People around her say they didn’t even think twice when she asked them to put taxi fares and plane tickets on their credit cards. She would often blame her situation on issues with moving her assets across from Europe. Associates recall laughing it off as forgetfulness – because she was so rich – when they had to hound her to pay them back.
As she continued to ingratiate herself into the New York socialite scene, Sorokin started talking about her plans to build her dream project – a multi-million private arts club that she thought about calling the Anna Delvey Foundation.
It would be an arts foundation that would include exhibitions, installations, pop-up shops, bars and restaurants.
She compared the project to the SoHo house members’ club empire and said she planned to open branches in London, Los Angeles, Dubai and Hong Kong.
Sorokin kept up the heiress ruse when she went looking for a $22 million loan to fund her new club in November 2016.
She said the loan would be secured by a letter of credit from UBS in Switzerland and showed what prosecutors say were bogus bank statements that purported to substantiate the $67 million in assets she claimed to have.
Spencer Garfield, a banker at the private equity fund Fortress, testified during her trial that Sorokin’s loan was rejected because she couldn’t produce proof of her fortune.
Her attorney argued in court that one of the firm’s executives had sent Sorokin dozens of proactive texts, telling her she was ‘beautiful inside and out’, that he was ‘forcing myself not to kiss you’ and asking to come up to her hotel room.
People around her say they didn’t even think twice when she asked them to put taxi fares and plane tickets on their credit cards. She would often blame her situation on issues with moving her assets across from Europe
AS she continued to ingratiate herself into the New York socialite scene, Sorokin started talking about her plans to build her dream project – a multi-million private arts club that she thought about calling the Anna Delvey Foundation.
Sorokin sought a $22 million loan from Fortress Investment Group in 2017 to fund her arts club after showing the private equity firm fake documents claiming she had a 60 million euro fortune.
They said they would consider it if she put up $100,000 for them to do due diligence, which is basically a background check of her financial records.
She managed to get a $100,000 from a different bank, City National, by convincing them to give her an overdraft that she promised to repay within days.
Sorokin then gave the $100,000 to Fortress.
They spent $45,000 of it carrying out their financial review before Sorokin asked for $55,000 back, claiming she no longer needed their services.
She never repaid City National. Instead, she allegedly managed to spend the entire $55,000 within a month to fund her lavish lifestyle.
She also resorted to depositing bad checks and transferring funds out before they bounced – a process called check kiting.
This is how she got the $30,000 to pay 11 Howard via a wire transfer.
Between April 7 and April 11, she deposited $160,000 in bad checks into her Citibank account and transferred $70,000 out before they bounced.
In August, she opened a different account with a different bank, Signature, deposited $15,000 in bad checks and withdrew $8,200 before they bounced.
Prosecutors said Sorokin ended up bailing on another firm when it pressured her for a meeting with a UBS banker who could verify her assets.
Another New York banker testified that Sorokin seemed to ‘speak the language’ of the financial world during her attempt to obtain a multimillion-dollar loan.
Ryan Salem of City National Bank told the court that his bank denied a request to finance the private arts club Sorokin proposed building.
Salem said the financial statements she provided in support of the loan just ‘didn’t add up.’
‘We always believed that she had money,’ he said. ‘She seemed to speak the language. She understood the financial jargon that you need to know to interact and transact in this environment.’
Despite a host of red flags, City National still agreed to lend Sorokin $100,000 in an overdraft that she promised to repay within days.
Sorokin sought this $100,000 after Fortress agreed to consider her loan request if she provided the funds for them to do due diligence, which is basically a background check of her financial records.
She gave the $100,000 to Fortress and they spent $45,000 of it carrying out their financial review. Sorokin then asked for the remaining $55,000 back, claiming she no longer needed their services.
She never repaid City National. Instead, she allegedly managed to spend the entire $55,000 within a month to fund her lavish lifestyle.
Between April 7 and April 11 in 2017, prosecutors said Sorokin deposited $160,000 in bad checks into her Citibank account and transferred $70,000 before the checks could bounce.
In August, prosecutors said Sorokin opened a bank account with Signature Bank and deposited $15,000 of bad checks into the account. She withdrew about $8,200 in cash before the checks were returned.
Friend, Rachel Deloache Williams, who wrote about her ordeal with Anna in Vanity Fair, went with Sorokin on the Morocco trip.
When Sorokin’s credit cards declined in Morroco, her friend Rachel Williams was forced to put the $62,000 trip on her work card
Sorokin’s fall from grace seemingly started to unravel when she was kicked out of the 11 Howard hotel.
Her friend Neff, who worked at the hotel, was contacted by a manager at 11 Howard in early 2017 to say they didn’t have a credit card on file to pay for Sorokin’s lengthy stay.
At that point, Sorokin had racked up $30,000 in charges at the hotel.
When the hotel pressed her for payment, Sorokin told them a wire transfer was on the way and then proceeded to order a case of 1975 Dom Perignon for the staff.
Citibank eventually did send the wire transfer for the full $30,000 amount, which prosecutors said she paid for using money from bad checks.
But the hotel still locked Sorokin out of her hotel room in May 2017 while she was away on a trip to Nebraska because she couldn’t provide a working credit card.
Sorokin had chartered a private plane that cost $35,400 to and from the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska so she could try and meet billionaire Warren Buffet.
She boasted to friends that she got into a dinner party and spoke to the billionaire herself.
The bill for the charter company, which is popular among New York’s elite who use it to fly to and from the Hamptons and Miami, never got paid.
A spokesman for Fly Blade said it made an exception for Sorokin because international payments can sometimes take time to come through. In Sorokin’s case, she had assured them with doctored confirmation of payment.
‘For the flight in question, we received oral confirmation of the funds transfer with routing numbers and all relevant and verifiable account information. This was followed by receipt of a PDF of a Deutsche Bank wire confirmation which Deutsche Bank later determined was doctored,’ a spokesmansaid.
When Sorokin did not pay, they canceled the return leg of her trip. The jet was also already en-route to Los Angeles, they said, so ‘the cost of stopping in Omaha was de minimus’.
Upon her return to New York, she was evicted by police from the 11 Howard hotel.
She moved her luggage to the Mercer hotel just around the corner and then immediately embarked on a $62,000 extravagant trip to Morocco that she had promised two friends that same month.
Williams – the Vanity Fair photo editor – was among those invited on the all-expense paid trip, as well as Sorokin’s personal trainer Kacy Duke and a videographer to document the trip ‘for fun’.
Sorokin had told her friends she needed to leave the country to allow her tourist ESTA visa to renew.
The flights were paid for by Williams on her work credit card and she assumed Sorokin would reimburse her since she had claimed she would foot the bill for the lavish vacation.
They checked into a $7,000-a-night villa at the five star resort La Mamounia.
The six-day trip was without hiccups for several days until the hotel staff insisted on putting a credit card on file because Sorokin had booked their trip without a working one.
Many believed Anna was the German heiress she claimed to be given she traveled in celebrity circles and tossed around crisp $100 bills
Williams, who said she had $410 in her checking account at the time, was forced to hand her credit card over. The balance was more than she earned in a year.
Sorokin had promised to pay her back $70,000 when they returned to New York.
But after months of hassling her for the money, Williams said she reported Sorokin to police and then the New York district attorney’s office.
After returning from Morocco and having been kicked out of the 11 Howard, Sorokin had checked into the Beekman Hotel. She told Williams that the Mercer – where she had dropped her bags before leaving on the trip – had since booked out.
She was subsequently locked out of her room at the Beekman after just 20 days when the hotel realized they didn’t have a working credit card on file and she had racked up $11,500 in charges.
Sorokin then checked into W Hotel downtown for two nights but met a similar fate.
She then asked her trainer and Williams if she could sleep on their couches.
Sorokin was arrested in October 2017 for stealing $275,000 through multiple scams between November 2016 and August 2017.
It emerged last week during the trial that Sorokin’s friend Williams had helped set up her arrest.
Williams, with the help of the NYPD, had arranged a lunch with Sorokin in Los Angeles so the fake socialite could be taken into custody.
Sorokin has always denied the 16 charges filed against her, including grand theft and larceny.
Her attorney Todd Spodek has claimed his client never intended to commit a crime and she had always intended to pay back the money she owed.
He told jurors during the opening statements of her trial that Sorokin was exploiting a system that was ‘easily seduced by glamour and glitz’ after she saw how the appearance of wealth opened doors.
Spodek argued that Sorokin was just trying to buy time so she could launch her business and repay the debts.
‘Anna had to fake it until she could make it,’ her attorney said.
Following her arrest in October 2017, Sorokin made several brief court appearances looking a world away from the German heiress she claimed to be. When her trial started on March 27, Sorokin’s fashion choices drastically changed
During cross examination last week, Sorokin’s attorney questioned her former friend Williams about how she didn’t see the red flags other had raised about his client’s wealth.
He suggested that Williams had turned a blind eye because she was a beneficiary of Sorokin’s generosity.
‘This is the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through,’ Williams said tearfully during the trial. ‘I wish I had never met Anna. If I could go back in time and not be where I am today, you bet I would.’
During the trial, Williams told jurors that she was paid $1,300 for the Vanity Fair article and she has sold her story to HBO and publishing company Simon & Schuster. She stands to make about $635,000 if the deals go through.
Almost as quickly as Sorokin was arrested, producers and screenwriters were clambering to secure the rights to her story.
There are two productions in the works: a Netflix series produced by Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes and a dueling HBO series by Lena Dunham.
Sorokin, who has been jailed at Rikers since her arrest, is said to be thrilled about the interest, according to friends.
Neff Davis, who met Sorokin when she was a concierge at the 11 Howard, said Anna wants Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie to play her in a Netflix or HBO series.
‘She’s like, Okay, as long as Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie play me,’ Neff Davis, a former hotel receptionist described as Sorokin’s ‘only remaining friend’, told Paper magazine last year.
She was aghast that there were rumors Lindsay Lohan was being considered, Davis said.
‘Oh my god, no offense, but isn’t she like 30? My hair’s not even red anymore, did you tell them that,’ Davis claimed Sorokin told her during one conversation about it.
‘She really, really wants Margot Robbie.
‘She just watched I, Tonya in Rikers and thinks Margot is bada**. I’m sure Margot Robbie would kill it,’ Davis added.
Neither Robbie nor Lawrence has signed on to any project.
During her trial, she was lambasted by Justice Diane Kiesel for seeming to care more about the productions than the trial.
‘She seems more concerned about who is going to play her in the movie than what she’s done to the people she allegedly took advantage of,’ Kiesel said of Sorokin.
The juddge scolded Sorokin multiple times during the trial for delaying proceedings because she wasn’t happy with her outfit choices and treating the trial like a ‘fashion show’.
She turned heads on each day of her trial thanks to her choice of designer clothing – but the choice infuriated the judge who told her ‘This is not a fashion show’, and ended with Sorokin in tears.
During one court appearance, Sorokin refused to come out of her holding cell dressed in her prison uniform. The hearing was delayed when her attorney handed the judge a bag with a weeks worth of clothing, which then had to be checked by security.
‘This is the last day we’re playing with clothes,’ a furious Judge Diane Kiesel said.
Sorokin eventually emerged in a court appointed outfit because she didn’t like what the attorney had picked. She wept and had to be consoled by her attorney when the judge scolded her courtroom antics.
‘I’ve had a jury here since 9.30 this morning,’ the judge told her. ‘This is unacceptable and inappropriate… This is not a fashion show.’
The defendant and her attorney Todd Spodek had enlisted the services of a stylist for her courtroom appearances. Stylist Anastasia Walker – who has worked with the likes of Courtney Love, T-Pain and G-Eazy – quickly started dressing her in Yves Saint Laurent, Michael Kors and Victoria Beckham.
Elegant fraudster: Oone-time darling of the New York social scene Sorokin, is seen escorted into the courtroom during her three-week trial on fraud charges
On the first day of her trial, Sorokin stepped into the courtroom dressed in her usual Celine glasses, a sleek, low cut black Michael Kors dress and a black choker.
The following day she stepped out in a sheer black Yves Saint Laurent blouse and Victoria Beckham pants.
She opted for two black mini-dresses and black tights last week, as well as black pants with various beige, black and white blouses.
Sorokin dared to wear a snakeskin mini-dress on Monday as she declined to testify. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Sorokin opted for a cream lace dress that skimmed her thighs and a white sheer Zara dress.
Her attorneys had tried to get her into stilettos for the trial but the Department of Corrections deemed them to be too dangerous. Instead, Sorokin has been wearing the same pair of black ballet flats throughout the trial..
Her style, while on trial for fraud, has been described by onlookers as ‘iconic’ and ‘mysterious chic’.
Sorokin’s stylist said it was intentional and each outfit has been well planned.
Walker said she opted for monochrome pieces because they are timeless – and that needed to be the case because Sorokin’s photos were likely to appear in various media outlets.
Another factor that weighed on Walker was that Sorokin’s courtroom style could affect how she is portrayed in the possible Netflix and HBO series about her.
‘I really tried to focus on classic silhouettes and classic pieces in general,’ Walker told Elle Magazine.
‘(The all black) is mysterious chic, and although it’s getting a lot of media attention, this is still her real life. People have made comments that she doesn’t tale life seriously, but to me black is just a strong and powerful color. It’s serious.’