Sex and the City meets Catch Me if You Can in the astonishing true story of Anna Delvey, a young con artist posing as a German heiress in New York City—as told by the former Vanity Fair photo editor who got seduced by her friendship and then scammed out of more than $62,000.
Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel DeLoache Williams’s new friend Anna Delvey, a self-proclaimed German heiress, was worldly and ambitious. She was also generous—picking up the tab for lavish dinners at Le Coucou, infrared sauna sessions at HigherDOSE, drinks at the 11 Howard Library bar, and regular workout sessions with a celebrity personal trainer.
When Anna proposed an all-expenses-paid trip to Marrakech at the five-star La Mamounia hotel, Rachel jumped at the chance. But when Anna’s credit cards mysteriously stopped working, the dream vacation quickly took a dark turn. Anna asked Rachel to begin fronting costs—first for flights, then meals and shopping, and, finally, for their $7,500-per-night private villa. Before Rachel knew it, more than $62,000 had been charged to her credit cards. Anna swore she would reimburse Rachel the moment they returned to New York.
Back in Manhattan, the repayment never materialized, and a shocking pattern of deception emerged. Rachel learned that Anna had left a trail of deceit—and unpaid bills—wherever she’d been. Mortified, Rachel contacted the district attorney, and in a stunning turn of events, found herself helping to bring down one of the city’s most notorious con artists.
With breathless pacing and in-depth reporting from the person who experienced it firsthand, My Friend Anna is an unforgettable true story of money, power, greed, and female friendship.
I first heard about “The Fake Heiress” — the Manhattan socialite turned con artist — when I read the Vanity Fair article in April 2018 called My Misadventure with the Magician of Manhattan. I was riveted by the true story because Anna (the con) and her friend Rachel (the author) reminded me of people I used to mingle with when I lived in New York. Their exploits and references were all-too-familiar. I could picture how the ruse unfolded and how Rachel was duped, as it could have happened to any of my friends in the city, or even to me. Anna’s quirky, confident, materialistic nature was commonplace, so it was easy to see how she slid under the radar for so long.
When My Friend Anna came out this past summer, I devoured it quickly (it’s a fast read!). The book gives more background, context and juicy detail to the original article. It reads a bit like a movie-length feature of Gossip Girl and has been called “Sex and the City meets Catch Me If You Can” — except it’s all true!
It’s important to note that Rachel’s point of view is one of privilege, so you might find it hard to relate or even “feel bad” for her at times throughout the book — I thought of other “con artist” or “catfish” true crime stories that have had seemingly (everything is relative) more malicious and costly consequences, but this story of the fake heiress reminded me of many girls I know (including myself) who have a hard time saying no. We were taught to be amenable and accommodating to others. I could picture myself in Rachel’s position, I’ve covered costs for friends who have forgotten their credit card or had it declined for whatever reason, without a second thought! Luckily, no one I’ve encountered in my life (thus far at least) has turned out to be a sociopath, which makes Rachel’s tale all the more interesting.
Enjoy this book on the beach and with a grain of salt — it might not elicit a lot of empathy depending on your viewpoint, but it’s an entertaining tale of true crime (albeit, at the expense of the author) that reads like fiction. I liked being transported to parts of my old life in Manhattan, but if you’d rather skip the backstory and find out how it all turns out, check out these articles:
NYMag’s The Cut - How Anna Delvey Tricked New York
NYTimes - A Fake Heiress Conned the City’s Wealthy
Harper’s Bazaar - How I was Conned by Fake Heiress Anna Delvey
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