New Netflix true-crime series Inventing Anna has captured the imagination of fans worldwide, but many will be wondering: what is fact and what is fiction in the show?


The series tells the true story of Anna Delvey (Julia Garner), better known as Sorokin, the Russian-born fake German heiress who conned her way into New York society and managed to defraud hotels, banks and wealthy friends.

Delvey’s rise and fall is explored through the eyes of Vivian (Anna Chlumsky), a fictionalised version of journalist Jessica Pressler who broke the wild true story in 2017, as well as from the perspective of others who knew her, including her ex-friend Rachel DeLoache Williams (who is played by Katie Lowes in the series) who claimed she was scammed out of thousands by Delvey.

But Inventing Anna mixes real-life people with fictional characters, and the show has been criticised by Williams – who wrote in an article for Air Mail that Inventing Anna creator Shonda Rhimes and Netflix had been fooled into thinking Anna was “a special and even inspiring person".

She added: “Netflix isn’t putting out a fictional story. It’s effectively running a con woman’s PR – and putting money in her pocket.”

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Every episode of the Netflix series reiterates a playful disclaimer: “This whole story is completely true. Except for the parts that are completely made up."

So who is the real Anna Delvey and what did she do? Read on to discover how much of the story behind the Netflix adaptation Inventing Anna is based on real life and how much they got wrong…

So who is the real Anna Delvey and what did she do? Read on to discover how much of the story behind the Netflix adaptation Inventing Anna is based on real life…

Who is the real Inventing Anna?

Inventing Anna
Inventing Anna Netflix

Anna Delvey – real name Sorokin – is a Russian-born woman who pretended to be a wealthy German heiress to con banks, hotels and members of New York high society out of large sums of money.

The 31-year-old, who was born in Moscow before her family relocated to Germany, moved to New York City in the summer of 2013 for Fashion Week whilst working for French fashion magazine Purple. She had previously been enrolled at Central Saint Martins in London but dropped out and relocated to Paris, which is where she swapped her last name Sorokin for Delvey.

Once in New York, she transferred to Purple's office in the capital and began mixing with the wealthy members of the New York art scene, pitching her idea of the Anna Delvey Foundation, a private members' club and art foundation, to investors.

Over the next five years, she would scam a number of acquaintances out of thousands of dollars by promising to pay for plane tickets and hotels and "forgetting" to pay them back, all whilst claiming that she had family money. She also convinced banks to lend her hundreds of thousands of dollars and deposited fraudulent cheques whilst defrauding hotels by managing to avoid giving a credit card.

What did Anna Sorokin do?

Anna Sorokin
Anna Sorokin

Between 2013 and 2017, Sorokin borrowed money from friends, including art collector Michael Xufu Huang, who told New York magazine that she forgot to pay him back "two or three thousand dollars" for flights and a hotel booking, although according to Artnet, he said he was eventually repaid from a Venmo account in a different name.

In January 2016, Anna Sorokin held a birthday party at Sadelle's in New York and hired a PR firm to put the party together – however, Huang said that the restaurant messaged him a few days later, asking for her contact information as she hadn't paid the bill.

The Netflix series alleges that Sorokin created fake bank statements whilst trying to raise funds for her Anna Delvey Foundation and used them to apply for a loan of $22 million to City National Bank, although this was not proven in later court proceedings.

She later went to Fortress Investment Group, which said it would consider the application if Sorokin provided $100,000 to cover expenses, so she returned to City and convinced an employee to give her a temporary overdraft for that amount, according to the New York Times. When Fortress became suspicious and tried to arrange meetings with the bankers she claimed to have in Switzerland, she withdrew her loan application.

Sorokin also defrauded Citibank in 2017 by depositing $160,000 worth of fraudulent cheques, from which she received $70,000, and managed to book a return flight with charter flight booking service Blade without paying the $35,390 fee upfront, according to Rolling Stone.

Whilst in New York, Sorokin stayed in a number of hotels, including the 11 Howard hotel in Soho, where she would often tip staff $100, concierge Neffatari Davis told New York magazine, but failed to give management a working credit card to pay for her charges. She paid the hotel $30,000 via a wire transfer paid by City Bank but after she continued to rack up charges, the hotel changed the security code on her room, locking her out.

Anna Sorokin during her trial at New York State Supreme Court on April 11, 2019
Anna Sorokin during her trial at New York State Supreme Court on April 11, 2019 Getty

She then moved to the Beekman hotel, securing a room without giving a credit card and ringing up a bill of $11,518 over three weeks. She was then evicted by the Beekman after failing to pay, before relocating to W New York Union Square, where she was kicked out after two days.

In May 2017, she invited three friends on an "all-expenses-paid" trip to Marrakesh in Morocco, booking La Mamounia hotel. However, after a few days, the hotel staff said they weren't able to charge Sorokin's credit card and asked for payment, at which point Sorokin convinced her friend Rachel DeLoache Williams to pay the $62,000 bill, promising to reimburse her when they returned to New York but DeLoache Williams said that she failed to do so.

The W hotels and the Beekman pressed charges for theft of services and after the Manhattan District Attorney's Office launched an investigation into her bank fraud, Sorokin was arrested on 3rd October 2017. Deloache Williams wrote in Time that she assisted the District Attorney's Office in arresting Sorokin by arranging a lunch with her near the rehabilitation facility she had been staying at.

In April 2019, a jury found Sorokin guilty on eight charges: grand larceny, attempted grand larceny and theft of services. She was found not guilty on one charge of attempting grand larceny in the first degree, relating to the loan application with City National Bank, and a charge of larceny in the second degree, relating to the alleged theft of $62,000 from Williams.

She was sentenced to between four and 12 years in state prison, fined $24,000 and ordered to pay $199,000 in restitution.

Where is Anna Sorokin now?

Julia Garner as Anna Delvey
Julia Garner as Anna Delvey Netflix

Sorokin served her sentence at the Albion Correctional Facility and was released early on 11th February 2021.

She was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for overstaying her visa in March 2021 and held in New Jersey county jail whilst waiting for deportation to Germany.

As reported by Insider, Netflix paid her $320,000 for the rights to her life story, however New York state froze her funds in 2019, stating that those convicted of crime are prohibited from profiting from its publicity as per the Son of Sam law.

Netflix agreed to send future payments to an escrow account managed by Sorokin's lawyer and monitored by the Office of Victim Services, with $199,000 going towards paying restitution to the banks, and $24,000 to settle state fines.

Inventing Anna arrives on Netflix on Friday 11th February - you can read our Inventing Anna review for more info. Check out our guides to the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or find out what else is on with our TV Guide.


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