- 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.
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)
Democrats Ask for Investigation into GOP Members Aiding Rioters
- More than 30 House Democrats signed a letter Wednesday demanding that security officials look into “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” at the Capitol the day before last week’s insurrection.
- The lawmakers claimed they “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting, including guests who “appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day.”
- The letter comes one day after Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) accused her Republican colleagues of bringing rioters into the Capitol the day before for “reconnaissance.”
- Notably, neither the letter nor Sherill herself directly named any members, and these claims have not yet been verified.
Demands for Investigation
Congressional Democrats are demanding an investigation into whether Republican representatives aided the Capitol rioters who lead last Wednesday’s insurrection.
In a letter signed by 31 members Wednesday, lawmakers asked the acting House and Senate Sergeants at Arms to look into “suspicious behavior and access given to visitors” the day right before the attack.
In that letter, the Democrats say that they as well as some of their staffers “witnessed an extremely high number of outside groups” visiting the Capitol.
They pointed out that was unusual because the building has restricted public access since March as part of pandemic protocols. Since then, tourists have only been allowed to enter the Capitol if they were brought in by a member of Congress.
The members found the tours “so concerning” that they reported them to the Sergeant at Arms the same day.
“The visitors encountered by some of the Members of Congress on this letter appeared to be associated with the rally at the White House the following day,” the letter continued. “Members of the group that attacked the Capitol seemed to have an unusually detailed knowledge of the layout of the Capitol Complex.”
The demands come after Rep. Mikie Sherrill (R-NJ) claimed during a Facebook livestream Tuesday that she saw Republican representatives bringing now-identified rioters into the Capitol the day before the riots for “reconnaissance.” Sherrill also alleged that some of her GOP colleagues “abetted” Trump and “incited this violent crowd.”
Members Under Fire
Neither the letter nor Sherill have directly named any members, and none of these claims have yet been verified. However, over the last few days, a number of Republicans have been condemned for their perceived involvement in inciting the rioters.
In a now-deleted video, right-wing conspiracy theorist and “Stop the Steal” organizer Ali Alexander claimed he had planned the rally that took place before the riot with the help of three House Republicans: Paul Gosar (Az.), Andy Biggs (Az.), and Mo Brooks (Al.). All three men voted to undermine the will of the American people and throw out the electoral votes in Arizona following the insurrection.
Biggs and Brooks have both denied that they have any involvement, but Gosar, who tagged Alexander in a tweet he posted just hours before the attack, has not responded to any requests for comment from several outlets.
“Biden should concede,” Gosar wrote. “I want his concession on my desk tomorrow morning. Don’t make me come over there. #StopTheSteaI2021”
While Brooks has denied any involvement in planning the rally, his remarks to the would-be domestic terrorists at the event have sparked widespread condemnation.
“Today is the day that American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” he told the crowd. “Are you willing to do what it takes to fight for America?”
Some House Democrats introduced resolutions to censure Brooks for his comments. Other members have also been pushing to invoke Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, a relic of the post-Civil War era which disqualifies people who “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” against the U.S. from holding public office.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) has also received 47 co-sponsored on her proposed resolution that would start investigations for “removal of the members who attempted to overturn the results of the election and incited a white supremacist attempted coup.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (CNN)
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Twitch Faces Backlash After Announcing a Ban On The Word ‘Simp’
- Twitch announced that using words like ‘Simp,’ ‘Incel,’ and ‘Virgin’ can get you banned if you use them as an insult to someone’s ‘perceived sexual practices.’
- The announcement was made on Dec. 16 by COO Sara Clemens during a town hall on the company’s official stream.
- Major streamers on the platform have mocked the decision, including Jacksepticeye, who wrote, “Thank God Twitch finally cured all toxicity online.“ Others even thought of alternatives to use in replaces of these words.
- How the policy will be enforced is still up in the air, with streamers and fans alike both needing to wait until January 22, 2021.
No More Simping
Starting January 22, using “simp,” “incel,” and “virgin” as an insult will be a bannable offense on the popular streaming platform Twitch.
The announcement was made on Dec. 16 by COO Sara Clemens during a town hall on the company’s official stream. “Making any derogatory statements about another person’s perceived sexual practices – and that does include targeting another person with sexually-focused terms.”
She told the host “So, using terms like ‘simp,’ ‘incel,’ and ‘virgin’ as an insult to negatively refer to someone’s sexual activity is not allowed under this new policy.”
The news, as anyone with any knowledge of the community would expect, was widely mocked. Among the first to react was Rod Breslau, a former professional gamer and notable figure in the gaming community.
He tweeted: “Twitch now says that you can no longer call others ‘simp’, ‘incel’, and ‘virgin’ as they are now against TOS, along with any emotes relating to the term simp Twitch baby, what is you doing?”
“please don’t call me a simp i will report you to the twitch police and internet authorities, thanks”
Other creators were quick to react to the news as well. Streamer and Youtuber Jacksepticeye wrote, “Thank God Twitch finally cured all toxicity online. The great virgin and simp wars are finally over. The land is at peace and nature is healing.”
Some streamers, such as FazeSimp, were worried that the decision would mean necessary changes to their branding.
Lazarbeam, one of the largest streamers on any platform, decided that he’d stand in defiance of the new rules.
As Draconian As It Seems?
Not surprisingly, the community was quick to come up with alternatives for the words. In particular, there are efforts to save the word “simp,” or at least the meaning behind it. Sykkuno and other creators trying to push “Shrimp.”
While people like Neekolul pushed for a different word, writing, “Wait is the word simp like bannable if said on stream? O_O I need to find a new word… instead of incel I’ll say manbaby and instead of simp I’ll say KINGS💯”
Despite all the backlash, it’s possible the decision is as draconian as it’s being made out to be. The words “incel,” “simp,” and “virgin” aren’t being outright banned. In her interview, Clemens specifically said, “…using terms like ‘simp,’ ‘incel,’ and ‘virgin’ as an insult to negatively refer to someone’s sexual activity is not allowed under this new policy.”
Twitch backed up that stance in a clarifying statement Breslau:
“We will take action against the use of terms like ‘simp,’ ‘incel,’ or ‘virgin’ specifically when they are being used to negatively refer to another person’s sexual practices. Using these terms on their own wouldn’t lead to an enforcement but we would take action if they were used repeatedly in a harassing manner.”
The platform went on to say, “We deny emotes related to these terms and take them down when they are reported to us. We have a stricter policy on emotes overall because they can be used across twitch so we take more proactive measures to minimize the potential for harm.”
The short version seems to be that calling someone a simp could likely get you a ban while calling oneself a simp is okay.
Like many policies that attempt to enforce similar rules, there are concerns that the grey area in between the extremes will be hard to regulate. For example, Faze Nickmercs wrote, “Can’t imagine gamin’ with the boys and not roasting the shit out of em.”
Other people online pointed out that people are focusing too much on the decision to ban specific words rather than why they’re being banned. One user tweeted, “Why does it matter what kind of words you are using to harass somebody? Shouldnt everyone harrasing get banned regardles?”
How the policy will be enforced is still up in the air, with streamers and fans alike both needing to wait until January 22, 2021 to possibly have a better idea of whether or not they’re still allow to say who they simp for.