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NY State Is Trying to Stop a Fake Heiress From Profiting Off a Netflix Series About Her Crimes

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  • Anna Sorokin, the woman who pretended to be a Germain heiress to swindle banks, restaurants, hotels, and others out of thousands, agreed to a deal with Netflix to make a series about her crimes.
  • The deal would give her $100,000 for her story, as well as a $15,000-per-episode consulting fee and $7,500 in royalties per episode.
  • New York state is now working to stop Netflix from paying her, pointing to the “Son of Sam” law which was created to prevent criminals from profiting off their crimes.

Who is Anna Sorokin?

The state of New York is working to stop Netflix from paying fake heiress Anna Sorokin more than $100,000 to use her story for an upcoming series about her notorious scam. 

Sorokin, who was known in social circles as “Anna Delvey,” moved to New York City in 2013, claiming to be a German heiress with a $60 million trust fund. She lived in luxurious hotels for months at a time, ate at swanky restaurants, attended exclusive parties, and wore designer clothes.

But Sorokin, who was actually born to a middle-class family in Russia, frauded her way through life. According to prosecutors, she forged financial statements, made up accountants, and lied about wire transfers to get out of paying money that she owed to businesses, friends, and other socialites. 

The fake heiress, dubbed by the media as the “SoHo Scammer,” was arrested in 2017 and sentenced in May 2018 to four to 12 years in prison for multiple counts of theft and grand larceny. 

According to court documents, she was also ordered to pay $198,956.19 in restitution to the victims of her scam. Victims included hotels like The Beekman and the W New York, a private jet and helicopter service called Blade, and even City National Bank, who she managed to dupe into giving her a $100,000 loan to launch a private art club in Manhattan. 

Netflix Deal

Sorokin’s story picked up widespread attention in the summer of 2018 when Vanity Fair and The Cut published stories about her. HBO and Netflix later began working on projects about her as well, with Lena Dunham behind the HBO project and Shonda Rhimes behind the Netflix series. 

According to a new report by the New York Post, Netflix acquired the rights to Sorokin’s life story in June of 2018, months after her arrest, but before her trial began. The New York Times also reported that this was part of a larger deal to buy the rights to information detailed in an article published by New York Magazine’s Jessica Pressler in May 2018. 

Netflix’s contract with Sorokin allegedly gives her $100,000 for her story, along with a $15,000 per episode consultant fee, and $7,500 in royalties per episode, the Post reported citing court documents.

New York State Gets Involved 

The Post also reported that the first payout was $30,000 that went directly to Sorokin’s lawyer. Now New York State is trying to stop Sorokin from getting any money from Netflix for herself.  

In late May, the office of the New York State attorney general filed a request to block a $70,000 payment from Netflix that Sorokin was set to receive in June. The state cited the “Son of Sam” law, which is designed to stop criminals from profiting off publicity around their crimes. That legislation passed in 1977, after many speculated that a notorious serial killer might sell his story to a writer or filmmaker. 

Along with blocking the $70,000 payment, Attorney General Letitia James is also working to stop Sorokin from earning the consultant and royalty fees. On top of that, a judge in Albany temporarily ordered Netflix to not pay Sorokin until the matter is settled through litigation, except for the $30,000 for her attorney’s unpaid legal fees, according to court records obtained by the Times. 

“The monies sought to be preserved herein, constitute ‘profits from a crime,'” Assistant Attorney General Adele Durand wrote in recently-filed court papers cited by the Post.

Instead, Durand said the proceeds of Sorokin’s Netflix deal should be donated to the New York State Office of Victim Services, for redistribution to the people impacted by her crimes. 

Todd Spodek, Sorokin’s lawyer told the Times: “It has always been Ms. Sorokin’s intention to pay back her victims.”

“I anticipate resolving the issue without further litigation,” he added. 

This is somewhat similar to what Sorokin said to the Times in a jailhouse interview from May. According to the newspaper, she said she always had the intention to pay the money back and had been trying to raise millions for a social club she thought would be a lucrative investment. 

However, in that same interview, she admitted that she was not actually sorry for duping her victims.“I’d be lying to you and to everyone else and to myself if I said I was sorry for anything,” she said. “I regret the way I went about certain things.”

The Times also reported: “Ms. Sorokin was asked if, given the chance, she would do the same things again. Ms. Sorokin shrugged. ‘Yes, probably so,’ she said, laughing.”

As of now, the Netflix series is still in development. As far as the HBO production, that deal was struck with one Sorokin’s victims, former Vanity Fair photo editor Rachel Williams, who Sorokin stuck with a 62,000 bill for a trip to Morocco. Williams also published a book about her experience with Sorokin that was released on Tuesday.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The New York Post)  (Business Insider

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Netflix Reports First Subscriber Loss in Over a Decade, Suggests Looming Crackdown on Password Sharing

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The company claims nearly 100 million people access the service via another household’s account.


Netflix Loses 200,000 Subscribers

Netflix stock took a 37% dive on Wednesday morning after the streaming giant reported its first subscriber loss in over a decade. 

In the first quarter of 2022, the company lost 200,000 subscribers. The fall was especially steep considering Netflix anticipated gaining over two million customers in the time period. Now, it expects to lose another two million in its second quarter. 

In a Tuesday letter to shareholders, Netflix said four main factors may have contributed to this downward trend. 

“COVID clouded the picture by significantly increasing our growth in 2020, leading us to believe that most of our slowing growth in 2021 was due to the COVID pull forward,” the letter said. “Now, we believe there are four main inter-related factors at work.”

The first of the factors the company pointed to was the fact that Netflix relies on outside sources for its access to broadband homes, meaning it is dependent on the uptake of connected televisions and on-demand entertainment to access new consumers. 

It also noted that the recent rise of new streaming services has given Netflix sturdy competition. That, along with other “macro factors” like inflation, continuing COVID-19 issues, and geopolitical events, have also slowed its growth. Recently, Netflix made the choice to withdraw from Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine. 

Potential Crackdown on Password Sharing

Perhaps the most significant factor Netflix cited, however, was the prominence of password sharing on the platform. In addition to the 222 million paying households Netflix touts, it claims accounts are being shared with another 100 million people, making it “harder to grow membership in many markets.”

The company suggested its new focus will be monetizing those 100 million people. 

“This is a big opportunity as these households are already watching Netflix and enjoying our service,” Netflix wrote in its letter. “Sharing likely helped fuel our growth by getting more people using and enjoying Netflix.”

The company claimed that while it has tried to make it easy to share accounts within family units, the flexibility of those features “created confusion about when and how Netflix can be shared with other households.”

Last month, Netflix announced it was testing tools aimed at curbing password sharing in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru. Details on a global rollout for these features remain unclear, but the company seems set on addressing the matter. 

“Those are over 100 million households already are choosing to view Netflix,” CEO Reeding Hastings said in a video accompanying the shareholder letter. “We’ve just got to get paid at some degree for them.”

The company is also weighing ad-supported tiers as an option to entice subscribers. While Netflix had previously voiced opposition to such a concept, Hastings said he would be “quite open to offering even lower prices with advertising, as a consumer choice.”

No plans for this tier are set in stone and it could take a couple years before anything is official. Other streaming services like Hulu and Peacock have found success by significantly lowering price points with ads. Disney+, which is arguably Netflix’s biggest competitor when it comes to subscriptions, will also be adding an ad-supported tier in the near future. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (CNBC) (Deadline)

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Jake Gyllenhaal Responds to Extended “All Too Well,” Says Artists Should Address “Unruly” Fans

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Many targeted the actor online because they believe he is the primary subject of Taylor Swift’s famous breakup record.


Gyllenhall Addresses “Red (Taylor’s Version)”

Actor Jake Gyllenhaal said he does not “begrudge” Taylor Swift for her album “Red (Taylor’s Version)” but argued that artists should have a responsibility to curb “unruly” fans.

Swift released “Red (Taylor’s Version)” in November as part of her ongoing effort to re-record her early work to gain full ownership over it. The album was first released in 2012 and is largely believed to be about her relationship with Gyllenhaal, though the Grammy-winner does not comment on the subjects of her music. For its re-release, Swift included a ten-minute version of the fan-favorite breakup ballad “All Too Well,” as well as a short film accompanying it. Many fans speculated that there were parallels between the new lyrics, visuals in the short film, and the former couple’s brief relationship.

In a profile published Thursday in Esquire, Gyllhenaal was asked about this version of “All Too Well,” which was released just a month prior to him sitting down for his interview with the outlet. He said the track “has nothing to do with” him.

“It’s about her relationship with her fans,” Gyllenhaal said. “It is her expression. Artists tap into personal experiences for inspiration, and I don’t begrudge anyone that.” 

Gyllenhaal Faces Online Ridicule

In the days after the re-release of “Red,” the Internet was full of jokes and memes with Gyllenhaal as the punchline. Some came from fans, but even stars like Dionne Warwick tweeted about how the “Nightcrawler” actor broke Swift’s heart, as did brands like Sour Patch Kids

The jokes turned into larger-scale harassment. Gyllenhall disabled commenting on his Instagram when the album came out, with many assuming he did so to minimize the hateful remarks being hurled at him. His comments have since been disabled again, but The Daily Beast captured screenshots of comments Swift’s fans left on his posts when they were open and available to read. Some spammed posts he made about 9/11 and Black Lives Matter. 

While he never mentioned Swift by name while speaking to Esquire — nor did discuss any details of the online ridicule he was subjected to — he did suggest that artists should discourage fans from this kind of behavior. 

“At some point, I think it’s important when supporters get unruly that we feel a responsibility to have them be civil and not allow for cyberbullying in one’s name,” Gyllenhaal said. “That begs for a deeper philosophical question. Not about any individual, per se, but a conversation that allows us to examine how we can—or should, even—take responsibility for what we put into the world, our contributions into the world.” 

“My question is: Is this our future? Is anger and divisiveness our future?” he continued. “Or can we be empowered and empower others while simultaneously putting empathy and civility into the dominant conversation?”

Gyllenhaal said that while he has not listened to “Red (Taylor’s Version)” himself yet, he understands the frenzy.

“I’m not unaware that there’s interest in my life,” he added. “My life is wonderful. I have a relationship that is truly wonderful, and I have a family I love so much. And this whole period of time has made me realize that.”

See what others are saying: (Jezebel) (Entertainment Weekly) (GQ)

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I Owe You An Apology, Tom Holland Spider-Man Controversy, Florida Man Strikes Again, & Today’s News

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