Back in 2017, New York City met a new socialite-slash-businesswoman who seemingly dropped from nowhere. Anna Delvey, with her Celine glasses and seemingly endless wads of cash, managed to convince the party people of New York, and its banks, that she was worth the investment. She told them she was a wealthy heiress getting ready to launch the next big thing, an art space and club. But really, she was an absolute nobody. Real name: Anna Sorokin.
There’s nothing better than a story that makes rich people look like idiots. Fyre Fest. Lori Loughlin’s kid. Anna Delvey’s scheme. Most fascinating though, is how each of these characters managed to get away with it for so long. What about them made people trust them, despite the warning signs? Can money and appearance really buy eyes looking the other way?
One of the people seemingly closest to Anna Delvey during her reign of terror was Neffatari Davis, who ended up being a huge part of an article The Cut ran chronicling the rags to riches to rags story of Anna’s rise and fall. Davis, the concierge at the $400-per-night hotel Anna was living in at the time, ultimately became her friend and received fancy gifts and dinners — and tips in the form of $100 bills — just for the company. With a room overflowing with shopping bags from Supreme and Acne and the ability to pay for endless spa treatments with Davis, it was easy to see why no one doubted her legitimacy.
Anna Delvey played her part well, despite the fact that she ran around in athleisure and occasionally didn’t pay her fellow rich friends back. The way she managed to keep wads of cash, never paying with a credit card and convincing everyone she had it all together: a complicated string of wires, bad checks and bank loans, defrauding multiple banks into thinking she had far more money than she was worth and using those loans to pay back parts of others.
And, ultimately, Anna Delvey ended up arrested, charged with six counts of grand larceny and attempted grand larceny, in addition to theft of services and sent to jail.
Like stories of other scammers, Anna Delvey’s has the mass appeal of being just a bit larger than life, where it seems the only victims were banks that already have endless stores of cash or holier-than-thou rich New Yorkers. A Netflix series is in the works.
But her schemes were not victimless. She walked out on bills to restaurants and hotels. One of her friends ended up losing her entire savings of $60,000 after a vacation gone wrong, where Anna had taken them all to Marrakech then was unable to pay for the expensive hotel.
But why do we remain so fascinated? Is it because Anna got her comeuppance before things went from bad to worse? Or because she was living the life we all wish we could, where cash changes hands in endless streams and we have the clout to lounge around in Acne sweats?
When we think about scammers like Fyre Festival’s Billy McFarland or Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes, they’re usually shrouded in some mystery of how exactly they could pull all this off without a shred of remorse. Even Anna Delvey hasn’t admitted wrongdoing, according to The Cut.
Perhaps it’s because when we take a look at ourselves, we all have some scammer tendencies. We put the best parts of our lives on social media, even when we’re completely falling apart. We wore the most expensive or impressive outfit to a job interview, so it looks like we have it all together. We keep companies like Rent the Runway in business, where you can literally purchase the status that comes with a designer gown for a night or two.
Ultimately, perhaps none of these people were even real scammers, who were looking to do wrong. Of course, they did do wrong, but were they just caught up in the gorgeous clothes, the dream or the status?
And maybe they were the ones who just had the confidence to actually pull it off.
To read more from Issue No. 12, visit us online here.