Controversy sells: Post-prison life has seen Anna Delvey launch the ultimate influencer comeback

Posted by Dina Zubi in Comment

7 months ago

There’s no denying Anna Delvey – an alias for Russian-born Anna Sorokin – has had us all intrigued. Though her time in the spotlight might have seemed short-lived when she was convicted and sentenced for financial crimes in 2019, it turns out we hadn’t seen the last of the scammer.

A year after her release, the hit Netflix show Inventing Anna premiered, sparking a renewed interest in the con artist. #InventingAnna now has more than 370 million views on TikTok, #AnnaDelvey has more than 380 million views and one of the soundbites from the show (Julia Garner as Delvey delivering the line: “I do not have time for this, I do not have time for you”) was used in more than 26,000 videos. She even has fan accounts across social media, with one of the TikTok accounts accumulating 128,000 followers.

After her time in prison, Delvey launched NFTs , started selling her original drawings for US$25,000 (£20,665) and has appeared in countless media interviews. Clearly controversy sells, and the fake heiress isn’t the only influencer to leverage her scandalous past. Caroline Calloway, the US influencer who has been accused of tricking her fans into buying non-existent event tickets and products, is writing a book called Scammer and selling “snake oil” on her website.

Delvey used social media to build a persona and form connections with powerful people in New York, using her online influence to support her scam. Posing as a German heiress, she convinced several people to loan her money for the private member’s club she was planning to launch while awaiting access to her “trust fund”.

In 2019, she was sentenced to four to 12 years for multiple crimes, including attempted grand larceny and stealing a private plane, but was released in February 2021 on parole for good behaviour – and naturally immediately hired a camera crew to follow her around. She was then held at an ICE detention facility due to overstaying her US visa and is currently on house arrest while she contests being deported to Germany.

Interestingly, Delvey is currently banned from using social media, including her Instagram account that has more than one million followers. Even so, she is creating a reality series where she will host dinner parties while under house arrest. She will be visited by “celebrities, moguls and glitterati” in her Manhattan apartment. The show is being produced by Wheelhouse Entertainment, which was co-created by comedian and presenter Jimmy Kimmel.

Why does it seem like Delvey is accepted back into the spotlight? Part of it might be because her victims were primarily bankers and wealthy New Yorkers, whom some find harder to sympathise with. Of course, not all of the people scammed by Delvey were part of the financial elite, such as her former friend Rachel Williams who ended up paying more than her annual salary for a disastrous luxury Morocco trip with the fake heiress, but even so, for now, Delvey’s intrigue has won out.

By Dina Zubi, CORQ news and features writer. Picture credit: Anna Delvey via Instagram