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Downtown Manhattan “Fake Heiress” Anna Sorokin wants the world to know she’s “not this dumb, greedy person.”
Sorokin — who was released from prison earlier this year after defrauding hotels, banks and others of around $275,000 while pretending to be a wealthy German heiress — sat down with ABC’s “20/20” in a new interview airing Friday to discuss her deceptions, ultimate conviction and life today.
Using the name Anna Delvey, prosecutors said Sorokin infiltrated New York’s elite social scene by claiming to be a wealthy German heiress with a trust fund of $67 million, gaining access to some of the city’s most exclusive parties and nightclubs.
Using the fake persona, she defrauded hotels, businesses, restaurants and banks of around $275,000 in just 10 months.
Yet Sorokin claims she never claimed to be an heiress, with access to a large cash fund and said she “always knew” she couldn’t afford the lifestyle.
She said she was trying to find a way to pay back those she had borrowed from when she was arrested in 2017 for grand larceny, attempted grand larceny and theft of services, ABC News reports.
“I never had a fraudulent intent,” she said. “And I guess that’s what should really count.”
Her comments echoed the 30-year-old’s stance on the issue earlier this year when she told the BBC that the situation “just spun out of my control.”
“It’s not like I orchestrated anything,” she said at the time.
Her former defense attorney Todd Spokdek said her plan when she arrived in the city was to open a high-end members-only arts club, but soon found it was hard to open the necessary doors in the exclusive community without a few lies, according to ABC News.
“Anna had every intention of doing things the right way, but she couldn’t open those doors without doing something a little bit grey to open the door,” he said. “Everyone creates the version of themselves that they want the world to see... Everyone lies when it's convenient to them… and Anna did the same thing. She couldn't be 100% honest because no one would listen to her.”
Even Sorokin’s friends weren’t immune from her deceptions. Rachel DeLoache Williams testified against Sorokin in her 2019 trial and recounted her own betrayal in the book “My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress.”
She told ABC News she first met Sorokin at a Manhattan nightclub when she was working as a photo editor for Vanity Fair.
Although she first thought the fake heiress was “slightly offbeat” they soon became close friends, with Sorokin often paying for $300 private fitness workouts and expensive dinners, all adding to the illusion that she was a wealthy heiress with large amounts of money at her disposal.
“I never questioned that she was who she said she was,” Williams said. “I never had reason to and I wouldn’t have thought that way.”
Sorokin even offered to take Williams on an all-expense-paid trip to Morocco, but once they were overseas, Sorokin told her she was having trouble with her credit cards.
“I guess they gave me [the] impression that they pre-authorized my card or something like that,” Sorokin said of her sudden failure to be able to pay.
Williams said she was asked to put the $62,000 in charges on her credit cards temporarily—but when they returned to the United States she was left with the bill.
"She owed me more money than I made in a year," she said, adding that she soon started to fall behind on her rent as she frantically tried to keep up with the bills.
Sorokin’s elaborate deceptions were uncovered after a viral 2018 story in New York magazine's Jessica Pressler.
She was arrested in 2017 and headed to Rikers Island while she waited for trial.
Although her defense team said she was offered a plea deal, Sorokin told ABC News she wanted to take the case to trial.
“I felt like it was the only way to tell my story,” she said.
On the stand, Williams was forced to recount her friend’s betrayal and described the experience to “20/20” as the most traumatic moment of her life.
“I understand the word trauma is relative,” she said. “To have someone that I had put so much goodwill into turn out to be just like a liar and who had willfully hurt me, was very painful.”
When Sorokin heard the jury deliver a guilty verdict to eight of the counts against her, she said she opted to “just deal with the consequences.”
“What, am I supposed to collapse 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 headed off to prison but she made the most of her time behind bars, using it to read and write, and securing a deal with Netflix to sell her story for just over $300,000 WABC reports.
Due to a New York state law that doesn’t allow criminals to profit from their crimes, the money from the deal went to pay back her victims first.
In February, she was released from prison after spending just under four years behind bars—quickly returning to social media just hours after her release.
She’s now back in jail in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, facing possible deportation, ABC News reports. Sorokin, although born in Russia, had been living in Germany with her family before moving to New York City.
She told ABC News she’s not sure what her next chapter will be.
“I’m just trying to rewrite my story,” she said.
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