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Photo:  @annadlvv/Instagram
Anna Delvey Fooled New York Into Thinking She Was A German Heiress

New York City socialite and German heiress Anna Delvey turned out to be Anna Sorokin, the Russian-born daughter of working-class parents. Sorokin’s elaborate lies resulted in roughly $40,000 in unpaid hotel bills, a six-day trip to Marrakesh that cost her friend $62,000, and another $270,000 taken from friends and businesses.

To carry out her scheme – which started in early 2017 – Sorokin often paid for things in cash to imply she possessed great wealth. Taking advantage of her accent, Sorokin told people she came from German money – to the tune of $60 million. She then convinced friends to use credit cards to foot extravagant bills with the promise of reimbursement. She also deposited $160,000 in bad checks, withdrawing nearly $70,000 before she was caught.

In 2018, Sorokin awaited trial on Rikers Island. Her ruse fell apart after she failed to pay a restaurant bill, which prompted the staff to message one of her victims/friends for Sorokin’s contact information. Sorokin’s charges include grand larceny and theft of services; she pleaded not guilty and faced up to 15 years if convicted.

On May 9, 2019, Judge Diane Kiesel found Sorokin guilty of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny, and one count of attempted grand larceny. She is sentenced to four to 12 years in prison with credit for time served. She will be deported upon her release and has been fined $24,000 and ordered to pay $199,000 in restitution.

Photo: New York State Department of Correctional Services/Wikipedia/Fair Use
David Hampton Convinced The New York Elite He Was The Son Of Sidney Poitier

In the early 1980s, David Hampton made a career out of convincing the New York elite that Sidney Poitier was his father. This revelation earned him entry to clubs, invites to residences, and gifts of cash. He once stayed at actress Melanie Griffith’s home and spoke with actor Gary Sinise all night.

In October 1983, he visited the home of former Newsweek editor, Osborn Elliott. When the Elliotts had gone to bed, Hampton quietly let a young man spend the night in his bedroom. Osborn’s wife found Hampton’s uninvited guest in the morning, and the Elliotts booted the pair from their house. Mrs. Elliott called the police, who eventually arrested Hampton and charged him with criminal impersonation, fraudulent accosting, and petty larceny. However, Hampton took a deal and pleaded guilty to attempted burglary.

Part of the deal included a ban from New York City. When Hampton violated that ban and failed to pay restitution, a judge sentenced him to one to four years in prison.

Hampton spent 21 months inside. He passed in 2003. His story lives on in the form of John Guare’s Six Degrees of Separation, a film adaptation starring Will Smith as a fictionalized version of Hampton.

Photo: Handout/Handout/Getty Images News
Robert Hendy-Freegard Posed As An MI5 Agent To Take People’s Money

Starting in 1993, Robert Hendy-Freegard spent 10 years convincing people their lives were in danger from various terrorist organizations. By telling people he worked as an MI5 agent investigating the IRA or other violent groups, he tricked seven women and one man into paying him protection money totaling between £600,000 to £1 million.

At first, Hendy-Freegard would say he worked as a car salesman and then disappear for a while. Upon returning, he then implied his job involved secrecy and danger, which his marks believed. Hendy-Freegard even convinced two of them to stay in the same house together without speaking to one another.

At least one of his targets got physically assaulted while under the belief they were training for supposed undercover assignments. Hendy-Freegard’s luck ran out when the parents of one alerted police. He was convicted in June 2005 of kidnapping, theft, and deception; he received a life sentence.

Photo:  Princeton Police Department
James Hogue Posed As A Teenager And Lied His Way Into Princeton

Using the pseudonym Jay Huntsman, James Hogue pretended to be a 16-year-old orphan until his performance at a track meet, coupled with his ownership of a car and apartment, revealed his ruse in 1985. When contacted about her son’s antics, Eugene Hogue merely laughed.

Authorities arrested 26-year-old Hogue for taking sporting goods in 1988, and it came to light that he lied about a bioengineering degree for his job as a cross-training clinic teacher.

Princeton University accepted Hogue – who had applied under the alias “Alexi Indris-Santana” – as an undergraduate student. In 1991, law enforcement arrested Hogue after a former Palo Alto High School student recognized him at the Ivy League school. Hogue faced charges for falsifying records, forgery, and wrongful impersonation.

In 2017, police arrested Hogue for hoarding a large number of stolen items in his home. During his sentencing, Hogue remarked that his actions were “nothing I can really understand myself.”

Photo: Nathan Cooper Branwhite/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Mary Baker Posed As ‘Princess Caraboo’ From A Fake Island Kingdom

In April 1817, Mary Baker appeared in a village near Bristol, England, dressed in a turban and speaking in an indecipherable language. The Worrall family took her in, as they enjoyed the attention of hosting a mysterious visitor in their home. Later, much to the Worralls’ delight, a Portuguese sailor in the town claimed he understood the woman who introduced herself as Princess Caraboo, royalty from the island of Javasu.

Baker enjoyed the visitors who spoiled her until a former employer revealed her true identity. The Devonshire, England, native received funds from Mrs. Worrall, who sympathized with her, to travel to the United States. She returned to her home country after a few years and passed in 1865 after spending time selling leeches to hospitals.

Photo: East Hampton Village Police
Christophe Rocancourt Fooled Celebrities And Regular People, Too

Few scammers boast as prolific a career as Christophe Rocancourt. Born into poverty-stricken France in 1967, he conned his first victims in the 1980s by pretending to be a rich Russian called Prince de Galitzine, then forging the deed to a Parisian building and selling it for $1.4 million.

In 1991, he arrived in the US and began rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, securing investments for various schemes. Along the way, he stayed in Mickey Rourke’s home, befriended Jean-Claude Van Damme, and fathered a child with Playboy model Pia Reyes. He allegedly made $40 million from the wealthy by pretending to be Sophia Loren’s son, Oscar de la Renta’s nephew, a movie producer, and a member of the Rockefeller family.

Though Rocancourt kept returning to the States after his schemes came to light, authorities finally arrested him in 2002 and sentenced him to five years in prison. He then went back to France, where he took advantage of a French director’s weakened mental state to swindle her out of hundreds of thousands. Arrested in October 2014, he faced charges concerning a corruption scam that involved a special forces soldier in France.

Photo: PeaseMoonLife/YouTube
High School Student Mohammed Islam Tricked Stock Brokers

In July 2012, Mohammed Islam emailed famed stock trader, Timothy Sykes, for investment training with the declared end goal of assisting his family financially. Though Sykes declined to train the then-15-year-old, Islam continued to pursue the stock market.

In 2013, Business Insider listed Islam as one of 20 teen investors hoping to invade Wall Street. In December 2014, NYMag listed him as No. 12 on their annual “Reasons to Love NY” list. Supposedly, Islam made $72 million in just a few years, owned a BMW he couldn’t drive, and a luxurious apartment he couldn’t move into yet.

Soon after canceling an interview with CNBC, Islam came clean and admitted he had only “outperformed the S&P” with simulated trades made in his high school investment club.

Photo: US Postal Inspection Service
Robert Gomez Ran A ‘Miracle Car’ Scheme Worth Millions

In 1998, Robert Gomez told a Los Angeles, CA, church full of people that his adoptive father, John Bowers, had passed and left behind a $411 million estate to be distributed among fellow Christians. The alleged assets included expensive cars stuck in probate that Gomez and his friend, James Nichols, would sell to church-goers for only $1,000 each. Over a four-year span, the two young men collected at least $21 million from marks hoping to nab a nice car for little money.

After their targets became tired of waiting for their “Miracle Car,” they reported Gomez to the authorities, who arrested him on June 10, 2002. Gomez had devised the scam to fund his dream of being a professional gambler. A court found him guilty of fraud and money laundering, sentencing Gomez to pay millions in restitution and to serve more than 21 years in prison without parole. His co-conspirators received similar sentences.

Photo: ValliNagy/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Elizabeth Bigley Defrauded Banks Of Millions By Posing As Andrew Carnegie’s Daughter

Also known as Cassie Chadwick, Elizabeth Bigley, born in 1857, started her unlawful career at age 13, managing to open a bank account and deposit bogus checks. Authorities caught on to her but never pressed charges. She eventually moved from Canada to Cleveland, OH, in 1875 to continue her deceptive career.

There, she landed a job as a fortune teller under the name Madame Lydia De Vere, weathered two failed marriages, and donned the alias Cassie Hoover. She opened a house of harlotry in the city before marrying her third husband, Dr. Leroy Chadwick.

She told her new husband that she was the illegitimate child of Andrew Carnegie, prompting a trip to visit her alleged father in New York. She used a promissory note supposedly supplied by Carnegie himself – along with her wealthy husband’s good name – to defraud several banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans.

Police arrested her in 1904, and her trial caused a sensation; even Carnegie attended to see her in person. Bigley faced a sentence of 14 years and passed in 1907.

Photo: Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Steven Jay Russell Conned His Way Out Of Prison Multiple Times

Steven Jay Russell met Phillip Morris in jail in 1995, and the two fell in love and lived together after their release. However, they soon went back to prison when Russell embezzled $800,000 from a medical company that hired him as their chief financial officer. Russell impersonated a judge, successfully had his bail lowered, wrote a bad check, and was out for three days before being arrested.

The third escape involved using green marker ink to dye his prison uniform the color of surgical scrubs so he could walk right out of the institution. His fourth escape took 10 months and involved pretending he had an AIDS-related affliction, forging health records, being moved to a nursing home, and posing as a doctor to alert the prison to his passing – all to reunite with Morris.

Russell now serves a 144-year sentence in solitary confinement, but he did get a movie inspired by his life that stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor: I Love You Phillip Morris.

Photo: PictorialEvidence/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0
Scientologist Reed Slatkin Took From His Fellow Church-Goers

Reed Slatkin, the founder of EarthLink, served as a member and minister of the Church of Scientology before going on to enact one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the United States. In 1985, he began accepting money to invest for nearly 500 members of Scientology, celebrities, and wealthy individuals. He was arrested in 2002, pleading guilty to 15 counts, which entailed various types of fraud and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Authorities estimate that Slatkin collected $593 million from investors. He faced a sentence of 14 years in prison with restitution payments owed to victims. In 2015, he passed from a heart attack.

Photo: nessuno2001italy/YouTube
Alan Conway Pretended To Be Elusive Director Stanley Kubrick

Travel agent Alan Conway decided to impersonate reclusive director Stanley Kubrick in the 1990s, and it worked. The slender, white-haired, beardless Conway looked nothing like the rounder, dark-haired, hairy Kubrick, but the famous director shunned the spotlight for so long that people remained unsure of his actual appearance.

Through this ruse, Conway gained entry to various celebrity hot spots, like the Groucho Club, while pretending to be the director of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Englishman entered rehab in 1995, only to make up another persona there before passing in December 1998.

Photo: Samantha Appleton, Official White House Photo/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain
Tareq And Michaele Salahi Crashed A Dinner At The White House

In 2009, Tareq and Michaele Salahi made their way into President Barack Obama’s first state dinner at the White House. The couple did not have an invitation and were turned away at first, then changed tactics by walking to a second entrance where they gained entry. They successfully passed through two checkpoints without anyone confirming that they belonged at the event.

The couple stayed at the event for hours, meeting the president and other high-profile individuals. They were only caught when they bragged about their exploits on Facebook. Though they denied crashing the party, the couple did not produce proof of an invitation; they were also accused of crashing a Congressional Black Caucus dinner.

They later divorced and got remarried to other people. The pair never faced charges in connection with the White House party incident.

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