Scammer Found Guilty of Grand Larceny

The scammer who pretended to be a German heiress and swindled New York City elites and banks out of thousands has been found guilty on almost all counts against her. Anna Sorokin, whose story was so captivating that both Netflix and HBO have acquired rights to turn it into competing documentaries, will be sentenced and is facing up to 15 years in jail and deportation (for overstaying her visa).

Sorokin was convicted on eight counts, including attempted grand larceny, three grand larceny counts and theft of services. According to prosecutors, she stole $275,000 from banks and unwitting friends and attempted to steal millions more. As reports, Sorokin wasn’t found guilty on an attempted grand larceny charge regarding a $22 million loan she attempted to take out. She was also acquitted on a charge of stealing $62,000 from a friend who was left to foot the bill of a luxurious trip to Morocco that Sorokin offered to take her on. That friend has reportedly been signed on as an informant for the HBO documentary.

Lessons Learned

Sorokin didn’t exactly fit the description of your typical fraudster, which could be a contributing factor as to why she was able to get as far as she did. Like many other scammers in recent times (for example, Billy McFarland, who was behind the Fyre festival debacle), Sorokin will now be held accountable for her white-collar crimes.

The Sorokin case underscores the importance of stringent due diligence, something that both the financial and art communities already have in place. Due diligence by both City National bank and Fortress Investment Group raised many red flags, including not being able to determine the origin of her wealth and the fact that Sorokin’s passport stated her country of birth as Russia while she claimed to be German-born and prevented her from securing a $22 million loan from either institution. Still, the lesson is that you can never be too careful, as Sorokin was able to fraudulently get a $100,000 line of credit from City National by using forged financial documents, showing that the safeguards in place can only go so far. And remember, jail time doesn’t necessarily mean recouped funds for those who were scammed.