Netflix's Inventing Anna: What Anna Sorokin's Life Was Like Before Her Scam

Anna Sorokin, who is also known as Anna Delvey, was well-known among her friends and associates in New York City. However, she did not gain widespread attention until two articles were posted in New York Magazine and Vanity Fair exposing her as a scam artist and a fraud.

As reported by Rolling Stone, Sorokin moved to New York City in 2013 and reinvented herself as a German heiress who was on the cusp of receiving a substantial trust fund from her father. Using the name Anna Devley, she convinced numerous people that she was, indeed, an heiress, and managed to befriend some of the city's most prominent socialites. She stayed in the finest hotels, wore designer clothing and accessories, and was known as a generous tipper.

Sorokin also expressed an interest in obtaining a loan to finance a "dynamic visual arts center dedicated to contemporary art." Prior to her arrest, several banks were already processing her applications for millions of dollars in loans to fund her project.

In reality, Rolling Stone reports Sorokin was not born in Germany, her parents were not wealthy, and she did not have a trust fund. In fact, prosecutor Catherine McCaw said Sorokin did not have "a cent to her name," as far as investigators could determine. Instead, she was writing bad checks, forging documents, and at times simply refusing to pay her bills.

Anna Sorokin lived in Russia until she was 16

Although it took nearly four years, authorities eventually collected enough information to arrest Sorokin and charge her with numerous criminal counts related to fraud and theft. As reported by People, authorities estimate Anna Sorokin stole approximately $275,000 in cash, products, and services, between 2013 and her arrest in 2017. She was ultimately convicted on eight criminal counts, which included first-degree grand larceny, second-degree grand larceny, third-degree grand larceny, and theft of services. She was subsequently sentenced to four to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay $199,000 in restitution and $24,000 in fines.

Although there is much interest in how Sorokin managed to commit such an elaborate fraud, with little means, it is also interesting to delve into where she came from and what her life was like before she moved to the United States. A native of Domodedovo, Russia, Anna Sorokin was born on January 23, 1991. People reports Sorokin spent the vast majority of her childhood and teens living in the Moscow suburb. However, in 2007, when she was 16 years old, the family moved to Germany.

Contrary to Anna's stories about being an heiress, Anna's father, Vadim, worked as a truck driver when they arrived in Germany. Although he eventually opened his own heating and air conditioning business, and Anna's mother owned and operated a small convenience store, The U.S. Sun reports the family is not and never has been extraordinarily wealthy.

Anna Sorokin changed her last name to Delvey when she moved to Paris

During an interview with Daily Mail, Anna Sorokin's childhood friend, Anastasiya, said Sorkin "was an excellent pupil," who excelled in learning foreign languages, including English, French, and German. She also enjoyed dancing and attended dance classes. 

As reported by Daily Mail, Sorokin maintained good grades throughout school and was an honors student. She also displayed a determination to become successful. Insider reports Sorokin developed an interest in art and fashion at an early age. In addition to subscribing to Vogue magazine, Sorokin followed the latest fashion news via social media and fashion blogs. Sorokin said she often felt that her "parents did not really know what to do with" her, and she "just couldn't wait" to move out of her parents' home and start a new life.

According to The Cut, Sorokin graduated from high school in 2011. She left home soon thereafter to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Sorokin initially moved to London, England, where she reportedly attended Central Saint Martins College. However, Daily Mail reports the college had records of her being enrolled, but she never attended any classes.

The Cut reports she then moved back to Germany, where she was offered an internship in the fashion department of a public relations firm in Berlin. Sorokin left Germany again when she landed an internship with Purple magazine in Paris, France. When she arrived in France, Sorokin began using the surname Delvey.

Anna Sorokin moved to New York City in 2013

Although she was working toward a career she was very passionate about, Sorokin was not making enough money to support herself. The Cut reports Anna's parents supported her financially, including paying her rent, for several years. Anna's parents said they were willing to help her out, as they believed it was an investment in her future. However, they were not entirely sure how their daughter was spending the money.

Despite the fact that they were providing her with financial assistance, Anna Sorokin said her parents were not "really involved" in her daily life. During an interview with Insider, Sorokin said, "Sometimes, they would not even know what country I'd be in ... they didn't know if I was ... in Paris, Germany, or the states."

In 2013, Sorokin traveled to the United States for New York Fashion Week. As reported by Women's Wear Daily, she decided to stay in New York after attending the event and made arrangements to transfer to Purple magazine's New York office.

After moving to the United States, Sorokin continued using the surname Delvey. She also reinvented herself as a German heiress and began her quest to become a York City socialite. Although she had few resources, she scammed her way into expensive hotels, dined in high-end restaurants, and attended exclusive parties and events. In many cases, she borrowed money with the promise of paying it back when she received access to her non-existent trust fund.

Anna Sorokin's parents had no idea what she was up to

Vadim Sorokin said he and his wife had no idea what their daughter was doing until he heard the news of her arrest. In an interview with The U.S. Sun, Vadim said Anna was "raised well." However, he admitted his daughter "has a selfish personality" that he simply cannot explain. During one interview with Daily Mail, he said Anna's behavior likely came naturally to her, and there was not anything he and his wife could do to change it. He also admitted his daughter continued to borrow money from them in addition to scamming others.

However, during a later interview with Daily Mail, Vadim suggested his daughter was not entirely to blame. In his opinion, Anna's supposed victims "are trying to portray themselves as all white and fluffy," when, in reality, they often benefited from Anna's scams. Vadim said some of her victims " ... were simply flying with her -– went somewhere with her, got many things for free." He also suggested the banks she sought to scam "wanted to use everything for their benefit."

As reported by SCMP, Vadim was unable to attend Anna's trial. However, he submitted a letter to the court pleading for his daughter to receive a reduced sentence. The letter said, in part, "Our daughter is young; she took a series of incorrect decisions to accomplish her goals, but Anna is not a person who should be behind bars."

Anna is currently in ICE detention

Vadim said Anna is welcome to return home to Germany, and he is confident that she has learned from her mistakes. However, as reported by SCMP, Anna said she would not be returning to her parents' home. Anna Sorokin was released on February 11, 2021, after serving less than four years. Town and Country reports she was released early for good behavior.

Following her release from prison, Sorokin was taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as she had overstayed her visa when she traveled to the United States in 2013. Although she remained in ICE custody for one year, she was formally deported and was released on March 14, 2022. Following her release, Sorokin was expected to go directly to the airport to catch a flight back to Germany.

According to Town and Country, Sorokin ultimately avoided deportation when she refused to leave the ICE detention center. At this time, she remains in custody at the detention center and it is unclear how or when ICE will proceed with her deportation.