How to scam a socialite: ‘Fake Heiress’ mixes drama and documentary with the story of Anna Sorokin and her fabricated life

True Crime January 11, 2022
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Listen to ‘Fake Heiress’

Meet the woman who conned New York’s high society and all of their luxurious banks and hotels out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Anna Devey, a German heiress who was due to come into a trust fund of $67 million, dazzled the socialites of the city with her plans for the Anna Devey Foundation. It was a private members’ club and art foundation created to show off her extravagant collection in a multi-million dollar visual arts centre in New York City. Only, Anna Delvey was not her real name, she certainly did not have $67 million to spare, and above all, she was a “Fake Heiress.”

Six episodes, each just about half an hour long, are about a story that, if it were a movie, critics would call far too on the nose. Everything about con-artist Anna Sorokin’s story is completely crazy, but it was just crazy enough to convince plenty of New York City socialites to hand over their money and resources to the fraudulent Anna Delvey Foundation. She even defrauded multiple banks and hotels, convincing them to provide her with hefty loans and handing out IOUs to five star hotels

“Fake Heiress” is hosted by Vicky Baker and Chloe Moss, who describe this podcast as a mix of drama and documentary. Baker is the BBC Radio 4 reporter who gathered the details and interviews for this story, while Moss is the screenwriter who created the script. The story is entirely true, with maybe a few hyperbolized details here and there (not the important details, though), but presented as a scripted podcast. Intermixed with real quotes and recorded interviews with childhood friends and her defrauded victims, “Fake Heiress” immerses you in Sorokin’s odd plan that somehow worked.

The real Anna was the daughter of a Russian truck driver and convenience store owner. She grew up in a small town southeast of Moscow before moving to a small village in Germany when she was 16. She was quiet and had trouble learning the language. But something changed when she moved to Paris to intern at the magazine Purple. She was already infatuated with fashion, but while in Paris, she decided to start going by Anna Delvey. In 2013, she traveled to New York for New York City Fashion Week and decided to stay. It was there, shortly after quitting Purple, that she got the idea for her foundation and thusly, her new identity as a millionaire socialite.

Something our hosts can’t believe is just how seemingly ironic this whole ordeal was. Her childhood friends, who described her as quiet but strong-willed, sometimes to the point of being mean and offensive, have been quoted saying Sorokin’s favorite movie is Mean Girls. Sorokin, Anna’s real last name, is actually Russian for magpie, a bird known for its love of shiny things and propensity to steal.

Released in December of 2019, “Fake Heiress” continues to stand out in the true crime podcast realm. It’s creative approach to telling the story of Sorokin, which is also being adapted by Netflix and HBO, has captivated listeners time and time again. Listen to this wild story from start to finish with “Fake Heiress.”

Listen to ‘Fake Heiress’

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