Anna Delvey's Former Friend Slams 'Inventing Anna' for 'Running a Con Woman's PR'
By Stacy Lambe
Thanks to Shonda Rhimes’ limited true-crime drama, Inventing Anna, there’s renewed attention surrounding Anna Delvey, aka the “Fake German Heiress” and convicted fraudster who scammed some of New York’s high society, hotels, restaurants and banks between 2015 and 2017. While Delvey, whose real name is Anna Sorokin, was found guilty of larceny in 2019 and was sentenced to 4 to 12 years in prison, one of her former friends is lashing out against the Netflix series for “running a con woman’s PR.”
Rachel DeLoache Williams, who once was a part of Delvey’s inner circle and was later stuck with a $60,000 bill, writes in an essay for Air Mail that the series is making Delvey “a star again.” Not only that, but it’s “repositioning the character of Anna Delvey from fraudster to front-row.”
“Take it from someone who knows: This is the art of the con, a shell game that proffers irresistible thrills for low stakes, while a sleight of hand carries out the high-roller business unseen,” Williams writes. “Netflix isn’t just putting out a fictional story… and putting money in her pocket.”
Williams, who worked at Vanity Fair at the time, knows firsthand what it’s like to be manipulated by Delvey. After becoming friends, the two spent time together while she was living in New York City. Then, in May 2017, Delvey invited Williams, fitness trainer Kacy Duke and another friend on an “all-expenses-paid” trip to Marrakesh, Morocco.
When the luxury hotel they were staying at was unable to charge Delvey’s cards, she convinced Williams to pay for the trip with the promise that she would get refunded once they got back to the States. Williams then used her personal and company credit cards to pay the outstanding balance on the hotel and other expenses.
After Delvey failed to pay Williams back, she worked with the police to have her former friend arrested five months later. Delvey was then indicted on several grand larceny charges by the Manhattan District Attorney. That’s when “the world got to see her true colors, too -- at least for a time,” Williams writes.
All of these events are depicted in the series, with Julia Garner portraying Delvey and former Scandal actress Katie Lowes as Williams. While the actress didn’t meet her real-life counterpart, “I definitely looked at her Instagram feed. I looked at interviews she had done about the experience,” Lowes told ET.
Williams also goes after the streaming service for paying Delvey for the rights to her story before her trial even began. According to Insider, “Netflix paid Anna Sorokin $320,000 for the rights to adapt her life story into a TV series.” The outlet also revealed that “Sorokin has used $199,000 of the money to pay restitution to the banks, plus another $24,000 to settle state fines.”
“Netflix provided Anna with so much cash that, even after some victims recouped their losses (thanks to a judge’s invocation of the ‘Son of Sam’ law), she finished her prison sentence with capital leftover -- seemingly enough to burn on Balenciaga and then some,” Williams claims.
Delvey, however, was not forced to pay Williams back for the Morocco trip.
Despite having profited off the situation, which Generation Hustle director Martha Shane said has become a larger “Anna Delvey cottage industry” of people cashing in, Williams was in debt and traumatized by what happened to her.
“It was destabilizing to have been so wrong about someone I trusted,” Williams writes in another essay for Time. “So, I decided to turn my thoughts into an article for my then-employer, Vanity Fair, and later a book, My Friend Anna, hoping my story would serve as a cautionary tale.”
She adds that by selling the rights of her story to HBO, “I understood that stepping into the spotlight came with certain risks -- I would only have so much control over how I was portrayed. But this Netflix description felt shocking.”
“Rachel really suffered through this experience. I think it was very difficult for her to realize that this person wasn’t who she thought she was,” Shane told ET. “But I think like a lot of other people, she was wise that she saw that she was part of this narrative and that the story was getting bigger and bigger and she decided, ‘I’m going to put my side of the story out there and write this book.’”