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The Use of Psychology To Conduct Digital Fraud - The Case of Anna Delvey

Are you also one of those confused and helpless individuals feeling overwhelmed by the number of frauds that appear to be circulating these days? Don’t worry; you’re not alone! The surge in fraudulent schemes during lockdown has continued since then, according to a new analysis, which shows a 17 percent increase in recorded frauds in the last three months.

However, one of the most challenging aspects of scams to comprehend is how victims actually become victims. When you learn of a fraud from a friend, the warning signs may appear evident. However, the intense emotional state that scammers produce is not apparent in the story’s narration. Hence, today Psychological manipulation is taught to scammers. They know how to induce their prey to abandon rational thinking and enter an emotional state in which logic is disregarded. Thus, scammers frequently use our psychological biases to persuade us to divulge sensitive data or financial information.

This article revolves around these facts and what is now the subject of Netflix’s latest big hit, Anna Delvey. Her story is the same as Tinder Swindler’s. Like him, she lived a complete falsehood for years before being discovered, and some of New York’s wealthiest people were duped by her. But the question is, how did she do it? How did Anna Sorokin, a 20-something German national from the middle class, go to New York and pretend to be an heiress with a $60 million trust fund, stay in opulent hotels, and create false identities to defraud banks and not lose her mind? What psychological tricks did she employ to get people to believe her lies and get away with it for so long, parting with large sums of money and even allowing her to fly on a private jet?

Let’s read and get answers to all of these never-ending questions!


Study shows that nearly 40% of those who Report Fraud attacks are young adults between ages of 20-29 yrs old

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If you want to keep yourself safe from falling victim to internet scams, then you’re definitely at the right place. We can give you the best practices in identifying red flags as well as help you in recovering your stolen money from scammers!

Table of Contents

What Exactly Was The Scam Case?

In May 2018, New York magazine published a viral article titled “How Anna Delvey Fooled New York’s Party People.” It told the narrative of a young woman who lived in hotels, ate every night at premium restaurants like Le Coucou, and spent money like water. She pretended to be a German heiress and lived like one. However, it was all a lie.

Anna Delvey, also known as Anna Sorokin, was a Russian national who defrauded banks, hotels, and acquaintances out for a total of $275,000 (£220,000). For four counts of theft of services, three acts of grand larceny, and one count of attempted grand robbery, she was sentenced to up to 12 years in prison in May of this year. In fact, according to one of her friends Rachel DeLoache William, her friendship with Delvey cost her about £50,000. Insane!

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Psychology Techniques That Helped In Robbing People Out Of Millions!

Many individuals believe that the victims have certain characteristics, such as being naive, vulnerable, or stupid. 

In many cases, however, the person who falls for a scam does so because of the scammer’s psychological methods, not because of any inherent defect. Sophisticated con artists use social engineering, a type of psychological manipulation, to persuade someone to do something, such as revealing personal information. The “basic attribution error,” a well-known psychological theory that relates to an individual’s inclination to link another’s behavior to their character or personality, is similar to blaming the victim. 

Well, similarly, these are the tactics that Anna Delvey also used!

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Fake Status - The Main Factor

People have always been drawn to people of high status, especially if they are pursuing it themselves. Maybe due to substantial social proof, being linked with high-status persons raises status in and of itself.

For example, in the opinion of some, simply going to places and doing activities that high-status people do can increase status. One of the show’s examples is Instagramming in the same spot as Kardashians. On the other hand, Anna didn’t just associate with high-class people to elevate her prestige. She in fact, used various other methods. For example, wearing expensive or designer clothing can be a show of high status. Right up to her court appearance, Anna was heavy on this one. 

Then, Anna was also frequently late in court. Perhaps it was just another status game? Basically, it’s common for people in the USA and similar cultures to make others wait so that they can simply imply status. Apart from this, there was the impression of extreme wealth – the $60m trust fund that didn’t exist, but people believed it did. Despite coming from a working-class family and only 26 years old, Anna exuded high status, attracting attention even if it was a ruse or a complete fabrication.

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Lastly, another is imagining affluence, which is why the clothes are effective. She did this regularly, from tipping $100 at a time to hiring but not obviously paying for a private plane.

All Fake Everything - Reality Framing!

According to a study, people have a natural tendency to trust and believe in others. Unless given cause to doubt it, they accept how others present themselves.

Anna created her own version of reality, which she subsequently lived without question. Others bought into it because she lived it so forcefully and unquestionably. Perhaps she began to believe some of it. If she had misgivings, others would have picked up on it and started to have doubts as well. However, no one did. Instead, they handed over their cash, aircraft, and hotel rooms to her. She’d created reality in a frame and then lived in it, and everyone who entered it was supposed to do the same. Anyone who questioned that reality was ejected or emotionally manipulated.

Another idea, known as Facework, claims that people find accusing others of lying to be highly uncomfortable and would prefer just to accept it. This would have made Anna’s scams a lot easier than we expected.


With how easy it is for scammers to acquire your data, it’s reasonable to be alarmed. Protect yourself and your loved ones by getting advice from experts. We will guide and even help you get your money back from scammers.

Lies, Misrepresentations & a lot Of Social Proof

Social proof is an excellent tool for assisting us in achieving success in a variety of areas. The fact is that, yes, social proof is a fun and effective approach when it’s combined with honesty, but when it’s employed with lies, it has the reverse effect. Thus, it was only because Anna Delvey combined it with lies, misrepresentations, and all the other malicious practices that it was both practical and unethical. 

Basically, it’s easier to persuade others to join once you’ve gotten a few people on board. Significant numbers of people can provide solid social evidence, such as extensive social media followings, robust or high-status persons you can name drop or introduce, or people prepared to give you a lot of money. This has a beneficial impact on anyone else who knows about these individuals. 

Throughout the series, it can be seen that when she creates introductions in order to gain social proof, she is occasionally exposed to the truth. When she says she knows someone well, it is just that she only met them in a lobby once. When she says she’s been hired by, in reality, she’s done just enough to make it believable for long enough that others will get on board because they’ve believed the lies. And then, once those people are on board, she has some genuine social proof! Woah, how clever? Hence, it’s a clever operating technique if done with honesty. However, after you’ve been exposed as a liar, words will travel among these individuals, and you’ll never work with them again.

Who are they?

First Impression Is The Last Impression - Well, Is It?

We’ve all heard the phrase “First Impression Is The Last Impression.” In fact, studies show that we have less than a second to form a first impression with our face and only a few seconds with our body language, posture, and clothing and that these impressions are difficult to change.

Anna dressed up in luxury labels and kept herself neat, so her first impressions of her were flawless. She also stayed in very expensive hotels without paying the bills, so if people heard about her before meeting her, their initial impression of her would already be formed. Of course, this implied a lot of money and wealth! How smart?

If you’ve been a victim of online scam you can contact us for support.


What exactly is Gaslighting? In simple words, when the abused begins to ask questions or retaliate, the abuser modifies or seeks to shift the victim’s narrative.

In the show, there’s one perfect yet simple illustration of gaslighting. Rachel meets Anna in Inventing Anna and takes her by surprise, begging for her money back and becoming upset over losing the $62,000 and the impact it has had on her life. Anna asks, “Why are you being so dramatic?” Sorokin is attempting to shift Rachel’s mental narrative from “My money is gone, and I’m upset about it” to “Perhaps I’m overreacting, and it isn’t that bad. If I’m being dramatic, that’s my fault.”

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It’s not absurd, though; it’s extremely real. Gaslighting makes it appear that the victim or abuser is completely wrong, not just a little bit wrong, but utterly wrong to the point of being stupid. For example, when Anna cannot make payments, she acts as though the other person is stupid for doubting whether it will arrive.

Was Anna Delvey Arrested?

Anna Delvey was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department on October 3, 2017, as part of a sting operation orchestrated by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. 

The sting included Rachel DeLoache Williams, who claimed she was duped out of more than $60,000 by Delvey during a trip to Marrakesh. Anna Delvey was quickly taken to Rikers Island and imprisoned without bail. She was charged with stealing around $275,000 through numerous frauds three weeks later. Damn! However, she was released from prison on good behavior on February 11, 2021, after serving for nearly four years.

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How to Protect Yourselves From Such Scams

Stopping and asking yourself, “Does it seem too wonderful to be true?” is one of the best things you can do. 

You can also try to sense-check things with others because someone who isn’t as emotionally invested in the scenario can give you a third-person perspective on what’s happening. It might not be enough to stop you, but it will offer you a different perspective and allow you to take a step back. 

Lastly, you can get in touch with companies like TheClaimers, an information provider which can help you find the most appropriate fund recovery agency – that allows customers to file a complaint against a scammer and get their money back!

Final Thought - Is It Just Plain Old Human Psychology?

By now, we know that although some scams are still relatively easy to notice, a growing number of scams are becoming more challenging to spot, with scammers employing increasingly sophisticated psychological techniques to socially engineer their victims into turning over personal information or money.

Scammers will keep their victims in the dark for as long as possible; many will not see the warning indications until it is too late. Understanding these strategies will assist you in avoiding scammers and helping friends and family members who may be in a similar predicament. Hence, great first impressions, the projection of excessive wealth and social standing, abusing people’s natural trust, and gaslighting them when questioned all contributed to Anna Delvey’s strategy almost succeeding – especially as it started to work and social proof began to come in. Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the whole affair is that she is clearly a very intelligent woman. She might have succeeded if she hadn’t been so consumed with the image and had put her brains and personality to work with honesty and integrity. But it appears that it wasn’t simply the success she desired, but its image as well.

We can conclude that aside from the last factor that is gaslighting, much of the above can be used for good as well as for manipulation. If used with honesty and integrity, they are strong tools, but if used for malicious purposes, as Anna Delvey did, nothing good will come of it. Happy Reading!

do you need help?

A lot of those who contact us have questions and concerns about their personal and business data being compromised. We aim to arm you with the legal and technical know-how in the fight against scams. Also, we will be able to refer you to top scam recovery agencies.

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