What would you do if you suddenly came into a lot of money? And when we say a lot of money, we’re talking millions. It’d probably be a dream come true and for one woman in Australia, it actually was. When Christine Lee discovered that her bank account was suddenly seemingly bottomless, she took full advantage. But what she didn’t know was where the money was coming from. Then one day, she got a call…
An Ambitious International Student
Christine Jia Xin Lee was a Malaysian student who attended Sydney University. The aspiring chemical engineer relocated to Australia for her studies and unlike a lot of students, was able to get by comfortably.
Lee’s family back in Malaysia was pretty well-off, so she had full financial support from her parents at first. With money to help with tuition and supplies, Lee eventually opened a local bank account to keep those funds in a safe place.
She Opened A Local Bank Account
Lee opened an account with Australia’s Westpac Banking Corporation just a month shy of her 18th birthday in 2012. As she continued to pursue her chemical engineering degree, Lee started gaining a reputation as a fashionista.
She would show up to class in designer threads, sporting expensive handbags and shoes. Clearly, she was living the kind of life that most college students can only dream of. Many just assumed her parents were that rich.
Nobody Questioned Her
Christine Lee’s wardrobe wasn’t anything your average college student could afford. Nearly everything she had was designer, from Cartier bracelets to Christian Louboutin heels. Even her phone case was made by the Italian luxury fashion house Moschino.
Nobody questioned Lee on how she obtained all these things but little did they know, not even Lee was sure how it was all possible. In reality, there was something strange going on that Lee kept to herself.
She Had Plenty To Herself
Within a year of living in Sydney, Lee’s closet was soon overflowing with designer goods that included at least ten Hermès Birkin handbags. Birkin bags are some of the most exclusive and sought-after goods made by a high-fashion label.
Prices for one of these handcrafted purses start at $12,000 and quickly go up from there. It’s a wonder how Lee managed to get her hands on so many with matching Hermès scarves to boot.
Something Didn’t Add Up
Lee’s parents sent her to Australia to study and not to fund her incredible shopping sprees. Despite the fact that they were wealthy, they certainly didn’t have the kind of money to support their daughter’s shopping habits.
Lee was spending money like it was nothing, so it’s likely her parents didn’t even know what she was up to. So if her parents weren’t buying her all these things, where exactly was Lee getting all this money?
She Didn’t Question It Either
Eventually, Lee noticed that her bank account had more funds than usual and she figured that her parents just increased her monthly allowance. She assumed that they did this without telling her and didn’t give it a second thought.
Even though Lee sensed that something was off with regards to her funds, she didn’t want to give up her lavish lifestyle but little did she know, it was all about to catch up with her.
Her Account Froze One Day
Lee’s Westpac bank account continued to accumulate extra funds for months. Within that time, she still didn’t think to tell her parents that something seemed off. After all, why would she want to end a good thing if it did, in fact, turn out that all that extra money was put there by mistake?
For many months Lee was able to get away with it but finally, on April 7, 2015, her account was frozen.
The Million-Dollar Transfer
For 11 months, Lee went on shopping sprees that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and she wasn’t shy about sharing her purchases with social media. But on April 7, 2015, Westpac’s Product Risk unit finally caught wind of Lee’s financial activity.
On that date, Lee made 14 transactions in one day and all of them involved transferring a total of $1,165,719.95 AUD into her own PayPal account. It was a suspiciously large amount of money being moved in one day.
She Spent Millions
The $1.16 million-dollar bank transfers that Lee initiated that day were more than enough to alert Westpac employees that something was up with her account. But what they didn’t notice for 11 months was the other $4.6 million that Lee spent from 2014 to 2015.
The bank was floored when they realized these expenses. Just how exactly could a young college student afford to spend that much? It turned out that she couldn’t.
She Almost Got Away With It
Lee must have known that it was all about to catch up with her. Around the time she made the million-dollar transfer to PayPal, Lee made arrangements to obtain an emergency passport. After she made a near $6,000 purchase at Cathay Pacific in Sydney Airport, she was put on an airport watchlist.
On May 4, 2016, Lee was apprehended and arrested at the Sydney Airport while trying to board a flight back to Malaysia.
Lee Was Detained By Authorities
At the time of Lee’s arrest, police alleged that she overdrew her account by $4.6 million in 2012 and hadn’t paid any of it back in four years. Lee was officially charged with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.
After she was taken into police custody, Lee was held by the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre in Sydney due to her visa status despite being able to post her $1,000 bail thanks to her boyfriend.
Her Boyfriend Was Clueless
Lee’s boyfriend, a young man by the name of Vincent King, was allegedly unaware of his girlfriend’s financial activity, despite the fact that they had been dating for 18 months prior to her arrest. He claimed that he had never even seen her make an extravagant purchase.
When reporters told King how much his girlfriend had taken, all he said was, “that’s big money.” But as the case unfolded, it seemed that Lee knew precisely what she was doing.
Lee Was Buying Everything
Although her parents and boyfriend apparently didn’t know what she was up to, Christine Lee was indeed making some extravagant purchases. On one occasion, Lee visited five designer boutiques in one day and dropped a total of $310,000.
Aside from her handbags, clothes, and jewelry, other luxurious purchases that Lee made included a Sony “digital selfie” camera, two Casio cameras, a Dyson vacuum cleaner, Chanel cashmere pillows, two smartphones, and 13 Hermès scarves, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
She Was Living The High Life
Lee also put herself up in a luxury apartment in Rhodes that overlooked the Sydney harbor. Rent for Lee’s sub-penthouse cost up to $3,120 AUD per month and Lee managed to make those payments.
Lee frequented a hair salon located in her apartment building, where hairdressers were shocked at the news. They told Daily Mail Lee showed no signs of a lavish lifestyle and that she was “a nice girl but she didn’t talk too much.”
She Was Moving Things Around
Lee’s suspicious activity began back in 2014. On July 22 of that year, a rent payment of $3,454 caused her first overdraft. Despite the fact that she was able to pay it back, she devised a plan to avoid making the same mistake.
She began transferring small sums into her own PayPal account. Eventually, the sums became larger and larger until seven months later, when about $4.5 million had been transferred to her PayPal.
She Hid The Money
Of the $4.5 million in Lee’s PayPal account, half was transferred to two separate Commonwealth Bank accounts. According to some reports, Lee was soon transferring about $5,000 a day into “secret accounts” in other Australian banks.
The Daily Telegraph reported that over a nine-month period, $33,000 was sent to bank accounts not associated with Westpac bank each week. At first, the frequent transfers were small enough to go undetected by Westpac employees until Lee attempted to move over $1 million in one day.
The Charges Against Lee Were Dropped
Miraculously, the charges brought against Lee in court were dropped. Magistrate Lisa Stapleton initially cast doubt on the case.
Stapleton ruled that “Ms. Lee had allegedly used credit that was given to her by the bank and would therefore have to repay it rather than face criminal sanctions,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Westpac Banking Corporation was ultimately at fault since they didn’t catch the unlimited overdraft they placed on her account.
She Thought It Was Her Parents
For her part, Christine Jia Xin Lee acted oblivious to the bank’s blunder. When Westpac’s senior manager of group investigations initially called her on April 8, 2015, they asked her why her account was overdrawn by $4.6 million.
She told them that she thought her parents were putting the money in her account. “I have [told my parents about it] and they are not very happy with me,” she later said on the phone call.
She Admitted What She Did
“I bought clothes, shoes, lots of handbags… They are in my unit at Rhodes,” Lee also told the Westpac manager. At that point, she told them she only had $4,000 left.
With the charges against her dropped, she was left the responsibility to pay back all that she had taken. Westpac was able to get the $1.5 million back from PayPal, but there was still an outstanding $3 million that needed to be returned.
They Took Everything
Lee returned at least 27 of the items she purchased, all totaling about $1 million. Westpac also secured an order from the Supreme Court that allowed them to seize any of Lee’s assets that would repay the remaining cost, including over 100 handbags.
After all was said and done, Lee went back to Malaysia. “She’s obviously very relieved that all this trauma is over for her,” her lawyer told The Sydney Morning Herald.
Who Is Anna Delvey?
If you thought Christine Lee’s story was crazy, Anna Delvey is doubling down on what’s possible. This story has it all: money, celebrities, theft, scams, scandals, and conspiracy theories. Anna Delvey isn’t even her real name. This girl manages to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars and outwit some of our nations most reputable banks and institutions.
Anna Delvey is an Instagram sensation, a Blair Waldorf wannabe, and a girl on a mission. First of all, Anna Delvey’s real last name is Sorkin, not Delvey. Anna was born in Russian in 1991. She moved to Germany when she was sixteen-years-old. When she got a competitive internship at Purple magazine in Paris, she changed her last name to Delvey. That’s where she began deceiving and social climbing. Now Anna is in jail. She was indicted on six felony counts and one misdemeanor charge, including grand larceny.
What Did She Do?
The public became aware of Anna Delvey thanks to a Vanity Fair article that came out in April 2017. According to the article, Anna tricked her closest friends into believing that she was a German heiress.
Eventually, Anna moved to New York where she became involved in the art world and the New York social scene. She went to high-end restaurants, hotels, and other expensive venues which she paid for through fraudulent means. After a lot of lies and unpaid bills, Anna was charged with grand larceny due to outstanding hotel bills.
How Much Money Was Involved?
Originally, Anna pleaded not guilty to grand larceny and theft of services amounting to “approximately $275,000 through multiple scams.” Months later, she returned to court to ask the judge to lessen her plea deal sentence from a maximum of nine years to a maximum of three years.
The judge denied Anna’s request. According to Jezebel, the judge said that Anna showed “little remorse” for her victims and she seemed “more concerned” about her publicity than the people she “allegedly took advantage of.”
Shonda Rimes Is Developing A Series About Her
Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey’s Anatomy and the producer of Scandal, bought the rights to the New York magazine profile of Anna Sorkin. She’s developing her story into a Netflix Original series.
Anna’s former friend Neff Davis said that Anna is already thinking about which actress will play her in the series. She said, “Oh, Anna’s aware. She’s like, ‘Okay, as long as Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie play me,’ And I’m like everyone wants Lindsay Lohan to play you and she’s like, ‘Oh my god, no offense, but isn’t she like 30? My hair’s not even red anymore, did you tell them that?'” Honestly, I think Juno Temple would be great for the role.
Who Was She Friends With?
From the outside, Anna looked like a popular person who was a big part of New York’s social scene. She had some famous friends, including Macaulay Culkin and Martin Shkreli. Anybody who’s friends with Martin Shkreli is probably bad news.
Her glamorous lifestyle started to fall apart when businesses started realizing that Anna wasn’t actually paying any bills. Her rich friends, and sometimes her not-so-rich friends, got stuck paying for everything. Anna’s friends were more like pawns to her. She used them for money and for status.
She Even Duped Vanity Fair’s Rachel Williams
Rachel Williams is an American model, TV presenter, and designer. She spoke to Vanity Fair about how Anna tricked her out of how $62,000. Anna and Rachel vacationed in Morocco together.
Rachel said, “I was the victim of alleged grand larceny in the second degree — grand larceny by deception. Anna told me once that her plans were either going to work out, or all go horribly wrong. Now I see what she meant. It was a magic trick — I’m embarrassed to say that I was one of the props, and the audience, too. Anna’s was a beautiful dream of New York, like one of those nights that never seems to end. And then the bill arrives.”
How Did She Do It?
According to Rachel, Anna allegedly falsified documents. She made it look like she had a total of 60 million euros in international banks. She then took those fake documents to City National Bank where her request for a $22 million business loan was denied.
She wanted that money so she could open an art club in Soho. Although the bank didn’t give her the full $22 million, they did give her $100,000. She used that money as security for another loan from a different investment group. Basically, Anna was borrowing money all over the place.
She’s A Selfie Wizard
All of the pictures in this article come directly from Anna’s Instagram account which is still very much accessible. Anna was indicted on six felony counts and one misdemeanor charge, including grand larceny.
While she was awaiting trial, she somehow managed to post a selfie on Instagram from jail. Who knows how Anna got access to a phone, but I have to say I’m not surprised. Of course, a girl who can steal hundreds of thousands of dollars can sneakily post a selfie.
Anna Decided To Skip Court
In 2017, a judge ordered for Anna’s arrest. Two NYPD officers were at Manhattan Criminal Court to speak to Sorokin, who was twenty-six-years-old at the time. She was supposed to appear in court to face theft charges.
Her lawyer, Todd Spodek, told the court, “my client, unfortunately, is not here. I’ve reached out to her but have not heard back.” This mistake would come back to haunt Anna. It could be one of the reasons that her request for a shorter maximum sentence was denied.
She Was Indicted On Six Counts of Grand Larceny
Anna Delvey could only scam her way out of court for so long. In late 2017, she was indicted on six counts of grand larceny as well as attempted grand larceny. Her arrest put an end to her five-year streak in which she scammed upward of $275,000 out of banks, investors, and friends.
At her sentencing, Judge Kiesel had some harsh words for Delvey, saying, “I see no remorse… She seems more concerned about who is going to play her in the movie than what she’s done to the people she allegedly took advantage of.”
The Red Flags Were There
A lot of the people who interacted with Anna described her as a difficult person. Employees at the hotels she was staying at described her as annoying and ill-mannered. She regularly bribed hotel and restaurant employees with one hundred dollar bills.
Anna was literally buying friends at this point. She was so well connected because she was able to give people cash whenever she felt it necessary. People thought that Anna was rich because it was so easy for her to give away money. That made people trust her claims and eventually lend her money.
She Was Lying About Being From Germany
Anna lived in Russia until she was sixteen. Her German language skills aren’t as good as her Russian language skills. While she was in Germany, her classmates described her as a quiet girl who had a difficult time with the German language.
People were ignoring major clues that Anna wasn’t who she claimed to be. If they had paid more attention to her accent or to her language abilities, maybe they wouldn’t have been scammed so easily.
She Says That Jail Isn’t So Bad
Although Anna is used to spending time at fancy New York hotels, she says that her time at Rikers Island hasn’t been that bad. Anna said, “People seem to think it’s horrible, but I see it as like, this sociological experiment … This one girl, she’s been stealing other people’s identities. I didn’t realize it was so easy.”
She also mentioned being fascinated by the murderers she’s locked up with. Let’s just hope that these criminals aren’t giving Anna any more creative ideas.
She May Have Scammed The Fyre Festival Founder
Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland has been accused of being involved in some scams of his own. Apparently, Anna asked to stay at the headquarters of a suspicious credit card company that McFarland owned.
She was only supposed to stay for a few days, but she actually refused to leave the Soho loft for months. McFarland was too “polite and nonconfrontational” to ask her to leave. He hinted that it was time for her to go, but when it came down to it, he couldn’t kick her out. She ended up staying there for four months.
How Shonda Rhimes Got Involved
You may have heard that Rhimes and Shondaland are leaving ABC after fifteen years of collaboration. Shonda is going to remain involved with her current ABC shows, Grey’s Anatomy, For The People, Station 19, and How To Get Away With Murder.
After Shonda read an article about Anna Delvey in New York magazine titled “How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People,” she became very interested in her story. As of now, Rhimes has decided to write a series based on Delvey’s crimes for Netflix.
Anna Delvey Didn’t Look Rich
Some fashion experts think that Anna’s modest taste in clothes helped her convince people that she was really wealthy. Anna wore high-end brands, but not super high-end brands. She had a Supreme hoodie and a nice leather jacket, but her wardrobe cost nothing compared to the wardrobes of some of her famous friends.
Anna looked like she was so rich, she could afford to be careless about fashion. Her lax style made people believe that she was comfortable in their social circle.
She Often Flaunted Her Extravagant Lifestyle On Instagram
Although Anna didn’t show off her wealth through her clothes, she did show off her wealth on Instagram. She posted pictures of herself in different tropical locations. She has photos of high-brow art, cars, hotels, and food.
From the outside, it looks like Anna was a cultured, well-connected rich girl with a lot of time on her hands. Her pictures are well composed and not overly ostentatious, although they do suggest a certain kind of lifestyle. Anna’s Instagram was carefully curated to reflect her self-constructed image.
How Her Hair Gave Her Away
Haircuts and dye jobs can be expensive, especially at high-end salons. Maintaining a mane can also be really time-consuming. People who are actually rich can take the time to get regular blowouts and keratin treatments. Yeah, these hair treatments look good, but they also give the idle rich something to do with their time.
Anna didn’t have much free time. She was too busy scamming and waiting for wire transfers. She didn’t actually have the money to be bored all the time. Her hair always looked like she wasn’t taking care of it.
Why Didn’t Anybody Stop Her?
One of the big questions about this case is how did Anna keep up her scamming efforts for so long? She was ripping through money pretty quickly. The reason authorities didn’t catch her sooner wasn’t that she was a Catch Me If You Can level scammer. She wasn’t even that good at lying.
Basically, she played people and banks against each other. She used the credibility she got from being associated with banks and rich people to boost her reputation. Ultimately, her debts caught up to her, and so did the police.
What Can We Learn From Anna Delvey?
In today’s social media climate, looking rich and popular is just as good as being rich and popular. Anna took a thing that we all do online and tried to make it work in real life. We all embellish our lives on Instagram. We post our highlight reels, not our bloopers or deleted scenes. We make it look like we have more, do more, and spend more.
It’s no wonder that so many people fell for Anna’s act. We’ve become accustomed to lying. The line between reality and fantasy has been blurred.
Narcissism On Another Level
This is the most recent post on Anna’s Instagram feed. Apparently, she will not be accepting any visitors while she’s in prison— at least for now. You could write to her if you want, though.
I’m not sure why anybody would want to write to her. I guess she thinks she’s still rich and popular, or she thinks that people are still interested in her story. On some level, we are still interested. We’ll probably watch the Netflix show and we’ll form our own opinions about Anna’s illegal activity.