Fake German heiress convicted of swindling banks to fund swanky lifestyle

A New York jury has convicted an extravagant socialite who bankrolled an implausibly lavish lifestyle with tens of thousands of dollars she swindled from banks, hotels and friends who believed she was a wealthy German heiress.

The Manhattan jury found Anna Sorokin guilty of four counts of theft of services, three counts of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny following a month-long trial that attracted international attention.

She was acquitted of one count of grand larceny and one count of attempted grand larceny.

Her defence attorney, Todd Spodek, said Ms Sorokin could face between five and 15 years in prison on the most serious charge. She is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9.

Anna Sorokin, charged with grand larceny for alleged multiple thefts totaling $275,000, appears in New York State Supreme Court. Source: AAP

Ms Sorokin also faces deportation to Germany because authorities say she overstayed her visa.

Using the name Anna Delvey, Ms Sorokin deceived friends and financial institutions into believing she had a fortune of about $95 million (60 million euros) overseas that would cover her high-end clothing, luxury hotel stays and trans-Atlantic travel.

She claimed her father was a diplomat or an oil baron and went to extraordinary lengths to have others pay her way.

Anna Sorokin poses for one of her many social media photos. Source: Instagram

Prosecutors alleged that she promised one friend an all-expenses paid trip to Morocco but then stuck her with the $88,000 bill — Ms Sorokin was acquitted of that charge.

She also was accused of forging financial records in an application for a $31 million loan to fund a private arts club she wanted to build, complete with exhibitions, installations and pop-up shops, prosecutors said.

She was denied the loan but persuaded one bank to lend her $140,000 she failed to repay.

Ms Sorokin on trial on grand larceny and theft of services charges. Source: AP

Mr Spodek insisted that Ms Sorokin planned to settle her six-figure debts and was merely "buying time".

He portrayed her as an ambitious entrepreneur who had merely gotten in over her head but had no criminal intent.

Mr Spodek said Ms Sorokin was "upset, as anyone would be," following the verdict. But he said he was pleased Ms Sorokin had been acquitted of one of the most serious charges in the indictment: attempting to steal more than $1 million (USD) from City National Bank.

Anna Sorokin and her lawyer Todd Spodek confer during her trial as the jury deliberates at New York State Supreme Court. Source: AAP

The verdict followed two days of often tedious deliberations, in which jurors asked for repeated clarification on the law and, in one note to the judge, indicated they had reached a "stalemate" due to a single uncompromising juror.

In another note Thursday, jurors said they were "unable to reach a unanimous verdict because we fundamentally disagree."

They reached their verdict less than two hours later.

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