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My Friend Anna

The True Story of the Fake Heiress Who Conned Me and Half of New York City
Length: 8 hrs and 47 mins
Categories: Non-fiction, True Crime
4 out of 5 stars (207 ratings)

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Summary

How does it feel to be betrayed by your closest friend? 

A close friend who turns out to be the most prolific grifter in New York City....

This is the true story of Anna Delvey, the fake heiress whose dizzying deceit and elaborate con-artistry deceived the Soho hipster scene before her ruse was finally and dramatically exposed. 

After meeting through mutual friends, the 'Russian heiress' Anna Delvey and Rachel DeLoache Williams soon became inseparable. Theirs was an intoxicating world of endless excess: high dining, personal trainer sessions, a luxury holiday...and Anna footed almost every bill. 

But after Anna's debit card was declined in a Moroccan medina whilst on holiday in a five-star luxury resort, Rachel began to suspect that her increasingly mysterious friend was not all she seemed. 

This is the incredible story of how Anna Sorokin conned the high-rollers of the NYC social scene and convinced her close friend of an entirely concocted fantasy, the product of falsified bank documents, bad cheques and carefully edited online photos. 

Written by Rachel DeLoache Williams, the Vanity Fair photography editor who believed Anna's lies before helping the police to track her down (fittingly, deciphering Anna's location using Instagram), this is Catch Me If You Can with Instagram filters. 

Between Anna, Fyre Festival's Billy McFarland (Anna even tried to scam Billy) and Elizabeth Holmes, whose start-up app duped the high and mighty of Silicon Valley, this is the year of the scammer. 

*Anna stood a high-profile trial in New York that has been followed voraciously by the media. She was found guilty of theft of services and grand larceny, facing up to 15 years in prison. The trial ended on 25th April.*

©2019 Rachel DeLoache Williams (P)2019 Simon & Schuster

Critic reviews

"'A Catch Me If You Can for the internet age... What Anna did was make Instagram flesh." (Guardian)

"At a time when we are obsessed with true-crime...Anna Sorokin is the real deal. That doesn't make it right. But oh, it tastes good." (Pandora Sykes, Elle)

"Anna looked at the soul of New York and recognized that if you distract people with shiny objects, they will be virtually unable to see anything else. And the thing was: it was so easy." (New York Magazine)

What members say

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Ridiculous but enjoyable

This audiobook left me feeling extremely conflicted. The narrator is hard to sympathise with and the performance is monotonous. Basic story - Rachel gets taken advantage of by Anna. For most of the book Rachel is freaking out and taking little action (except calling AMEX). There’s no real character development and the narrator remains defensive that she was hoodwinked so easily. Instead of really delving into why the characters acted as the did (except on a very shallow level) we hear detailed exchanges with AMEX. The conflict is never really resolved and as a reader I can’t help but feel like the narrator was so incredibly fortunate to get out of this scenario unscathed. Any sympathy is limited by her willingness to avail of all the lavish generosity her friend shows her until her scam finally fails. So essentially- it’s a book about two mediocre friends that use each other for financial and social gain. Privilege in action.

21 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Pretty good

it could have been shorter as i felt it repeated things a bit but a totally fascinating story. before i read it i had already decided the author was some rich snob who deserved what she got but after listening i changed my views 100% scary stuff even worse as its true

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A good account of a person scammed.

This book is easy to listen to, even though the subject matter is difficult. It presents a full account from the point of view of a woman scammed and the effect this had on Rachel DeLoache Williams.

The blurb says that this is ‘A true story of a fake heiress who conned me and half of New York City’ but there is very little information about the nature or the other victims of the scams perpetrated by Anna Delvey. The result is that the strap line is misleading.

However, this is still a well written account of the events around DeLoache Williams’s scam. It relies on facts and recollections, these are thorough and well documented. It is more memoir than piece of investigative journalism.

As a listener some questions remained unanswered for example; having been taken for so much money originally why keep agreeing to lend Anna Delvey more? Why didn’t alarm bells start ringing sooner?

Some insights into how other people can avoid being put in a similar situation and what to do if they are - or suspect someone they know is would have made this more accessible and easy to relate to.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Doesn't live up to the hype

Despite the billing, I felt this was certainly not another "Catch me if you can". Anna Delvey's story has some interest but her life shares none of the audacity or fireworks of Frank Abagnale Jnr's exploits, nor is her main fabrication particularly spectacular; that her money comes from a rich father. That is simply something she implies so that people do not suspect her previous fraudulent bank transactions. She does not play the role of an heiress as such (in the way Abagnale plays an airline pilot for example) indeed she is almost silent about that lie in case she is found out, and this is the opposite to more interesting fantasists. I spent most of the book wondering when I would learn about Anna Delvey and her confabulated stories and fake life.. but it never really happens.

In essence this is a reasonably well told and well performed story about a friendship with a person who has committed fraud, is running out of money, and understandably does not want her friends to realise the truth because she is lonely and still wants to be the centre of attention. Almost by accident she ends up in a large financial debt to her friend, but we never really find out the intent of that, or how much (if at all) it was planned. The worst aspect is that at times the book gets tedious, such as when quoting month's of emails saying the same thing again and again. I came close to sending it back a number of times due to this. However I did finish it, and enjoyed most the listen; and the author deserves credit for performing the audiobook very well IMO. But the crux is that Anna Delvey does not come near her billing, and the author was always going to struggle to live up to that misplaced hype.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Really enjoyed amazing story but very padded out

I purchased this audio book after seeing a very short tv interview with Rachel DeLoache Williams which was the first I had heard of the Fake German Heiress story and of course I was horrified and intrigued. As a fan of so many stylish tv series and films series set in New York, I knew I had to know more as with its glamorous backdrop of the social elite coupled with the exciting world of Vanity Fair and outrageous crimes, it just sounded stranger than fiction.
As such, there are reports of many people such as Lena Dunham of "Girls" fame and companies such as Netflix interested in developing it and it looks as if soon it will be immortalised as another glossy glam NYC saga which will make it even harder to keep in mind that this all really happened and that there were real victims but bearing this in mind this is a fascinating, frightening story which must be told.
I was happy to see the length was over 8 hours but also I did wonder how a story which could easily be told in 15 minutes could last so long and there was a HUGE amount of sometimes fascinating, sometimes tedious and often repetitious padding. I adored all the name dropping, loved hearing the details of working in the photo department of Vanity Fair, devoured all the high life details of "bites grabbed" in exclusive restaurants, luxurious and exotic hotels, personal training, mani pedis and infra red saunas - in fact I could have listened to another 8 hours solid of that. I was riveted by the incredible chutzpah of Anna Delvey and riveted as the story unfolded. But overall I did get a huge feeling of time being conscientiously filled in what often felt laborious and very monotonous but then there this is a true story and I am sure Rachel did ask Anna when her money would be repaid hundreds of times but I think even if it had meant a shorted book it would have been better for more of an overview or at least weekly review rather than blow by blow description. However Rachel seems so meticulous in her fact gathering I imagine she wanted to accurately depict her frustrations at the futility of the situation.
It would be cruel to quote the old adage that a fool and his or her money are easily parted but it is important to remember that monsters walk amongst us and many people have honed their grifting skills to such a high level that even clever, savvy, street smart people are no match for them - so this book is a wake up call for all of us.
Rachel DeLoache Williams wrote this book out of necessity I imagine, though with all the sums I am not sure at the end the exact figure she was out of pocket for and I think the book makes a terrific read considering this. It is a bit repetitious and padded out but for the most I adored all the details including the family outings and charming activities such as dying Easter eggs. It truly was a lovely glimpse into another world.
Although Rachel DeLoache Williams is not a professional narrator I thought she did a great job of reading her book and it did give the book a unique authenticity and interest that would have been missing with an actor. So I think this was the right way to go .
So I totally recommend this book for anyone who loves glamour, high life and intrigue and an insight into what it is to have a fabulous job in publishing but if you just want the facts without the personal terror and turmoil and beautiful descriptions of what everyone was wearing, what cocktails they were sipping and where they were gabbing a bite ... then maybe the newscoverage would be a more concise way to find out all about this fascinating and headline grabbing case.

Whether if you are happy or even comfortable to be treated to lots of fine dining and luxury treats at a generous, willing friend's invitation is a really an individual and private matter and as much as it would not sit well with many it seems very unfair that this has been held against Rachel DeLoache Williams in the matter of charges being put on her credit cards and not repaid or removed as promised. This understandable aggrievement at being branded a free loader and opportunist herself and in some way have have had it coming to her and now paying the price does come across strongly and of course this book is the perfect vehicle for her to try and separate the crime against her in this shameless con and the lifestyle and freebies she enjoyed with what she took for a generous and wealthy friend before she was basically robbed.

Is it wrong if Rachel DeLoache Williams ends up making a lot of money from being conned?
Personally I am all for it, as I really enjoyed this fascinating book and true life story and experiences and no amount of money could compensate for what she went through and I will also look forward to the glossy glam world it is set in coming to life as a TV Series or film as they say "you couldn't make it up"

The real question is will Conwoman/German Fake Heiress be able to benefit from her despicable grifting?
Now that really would be a crime.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Brilliantly narrated! Gripping!

Gosh what a nerve! A trust betrayed and a friendship that didn’t really exist. At least on one part.

2 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable but gets tedious

Maybe I was expecting slightly more from the story but in the end I found it drawn out and a bit underwhelming. I liked the narrator and sympatheised with her but after the facts are laid out it gets very tedious to listen to. Doing some reading afterwards I found hearing from some of the other characters involved (Neff in particular) was more interesting than listening to Rachel constantly checking her bank balance. Overall though as I didn't know the story at all beforehand I enjoyed the listen.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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You won’t want to stop listening

Not a book I would normally buy but I felt like trying something different I’m so glad I did
Narrating it herself the Author draws you in to her world so you feel every emotion as she leads you along her story
You totally understand why she got taken in and she keeps you hooked by not revealing how it turns out and who she is till the end
At points I found myself very emotional and wanting to rescue her from the terrible situation she finds herself in
Well worth the credit well written and beautiful read

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Stick to the vf article

Not sure what people would want to get from Ms Williams’ account but i suspect some will be disappointed.
It’s a naked account that allows you to sympathise but also question her life choices. However, there is not quite enough here for a full book (and certainly not one that will stand the test of time). Presumably it was produced quickly because despite the extensive work that Ms Williams put into accounting everything, it doesn’t seem an editor took the time to sculpt it. There is far too many passages that appear to be filler. The sort of passage that would have looked at home this in Alan Partidge’s book, ‘We need to talk about Alan.’
It’s a shame because it is an interesting story and it is presented nicely. Occasionally there were Gatsby-like elements to it. However, these elements are present in the Vanity Fair article which is a lot more concise.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Not enough story

There are a lot of great things about this memoir. It provides a window on the world of a Vanity Fair photo editor just starting her career in New York. The author proves to be a compelling, fluent narrator of her own story and it was a joy to listen to her voice.

My main criticism is that there simply wasn’t enough of a story to justify the book’s length. I mean how many times can you write: “And then I refreshed my Amex balance online again. Still nothing. I texted Anna. “The money will be with you tomorrow, I’ll sort it.” It became extremely repetitive.

By the end, I didn’t really care that much about what happened to any of them!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Lisa B.
  • 20-09-19

Just read the news article!

It was a mildly entertaining story. A very light and easy listen. I don't really feel like I wasted a credit, but I wouldn't recommend it. I wasn't aware of the story before coming across this book, but I imagine if you've read an article in the NY Times or wherever you don't need to bother with this. It doesn't need to be a book -- in fact it's quite a feat that the author managed to pad out a pretty basic story (at least the author's own experience of it; it's not clear how much more there is to Anna's side) into a 9hr audiobook. At times the author comes across as unbelievably naive and whiny but you can see it coming. I mean, the book is in a way 9 hours of "poor me" repeated over and over. Ultimately, the book is saved by the fact that the story is fairly interesting - but Rachel is a pretty boring character in it and that's all you really get here.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Karl
  • 09-02-20

Spectacularly chilling

This is by far one of the best works of non-fiction I have come across. Rachel is a master of words, and her chilling rendition of her experiences with Anna Delvey is gripping. It is masterfully composed and one feels gripped by her experiences, and one cannot help by feeling compassion for her.

I drive a lot for work and this helped me get through the long hours, making me actually want to drive more and not stop the narrative.

Well done Rachel, this was an absolute Tour De Force.