Name: My Friend Anna: The True Story Of A Fake Heiress
Author: Rachel Deloache Williams
Genre: True Crime, Autobiography
My Friend Anna: The True Story Of A Fake Heiress is the account of Rachel Deloache Williams – a friend who was conned by Anna Delvey.
I first heard about this book when I was listening to a BBC Sounds podcast about Anna Delvey called Fake Heiress, which I wrote a review of and you can read here.
In terms of the sequence of events there isn’t anything new in this book from the podcast but it is interesting and makes it seem more real when it is written by someone who was actually there experiencing it, rather than a reporter collating information after the event.
The book begins in Marrakech, on a luxury holiday Anna Delvey said she was going to pay for for herself, Rachel and two other friends, Kacy Duke a celebrity personal trainer and Jesse, a friend of Rachel’s who was a filmmaker. Whilst there they were also going to shoot a video to drum up interest for the arts foundation Anna wanted to create in New York. Anna Delvey claimed she was a German heiress to a million pound fortune and as such they were staying in luxury five-star hotel La Mamounia in Marrakech. However this was a lie.
Whilst there Anna gave the hotel a debit card knowing full well it would bounce so halfway through the holiday, they came to their room and demanded a card for the hotel payment. Rachel was pressurized into giving her card to pay for the holiday, though the management assured her it was only to remove a block on the reservation bill. However they charged her the full amount and though Anna promised she would pay her back she didn’t.
The book then moves back in time as Rachel talks about her upbringing in Knoxville, Tennessee as well as how she ended up living in New York City and working in Vanity Fair’s photography department. It also recounts how she first met Anna at Happy Ending, a bistro in New York City. She then talks about how this meeting turned into a friendship, with meals at Le Coucou, personal training sessions with Kacy Duke, spa days etc.
However even at this early stage, Williams talks about how she could feel the balance of power in the friendship shifting as she always felt as Anna paid for everything that she would just got along with what she wanted. She also detailed how things started to go wrong for the Morocco trip right at the beginning. Anna didn’t book the flights to Marrakech so Rachel ended up doing so on her own card, then at the airport Anna said she had packed her card in her suitcase by mistake so Rachel ended up paying for food on the flight.
The second part of the book talks about the trip to Marrakech, from their first landing up to where the book begins and immediately after paying the charge for La Moumonia. After the holiday. Rachel traveled to France as she was going there for work anyway but decided to stay for an extra few days to extend her holiday leave. She then returned to New York only to discover the block for La Moumonia was actually a charge. She gets in touch with Anna but over a period of months she continues to make excuses for why the payment won’t go through – from the bank asking for more money, to delays on getting a tracking number. Rachel also received emails allegedly from Anna’s accountant – it later transpired these emails were sent by Anna herself from a fake email address.
Rachel also gets more concerned when she learns her friend Jesse was left stranded in Morocco by Anna and had to pay for his own ticket back. She also learns from Kacy that Anna had been travelling to London and other places and wasn’t in New York as she said to Rachel. Anna also owes Kacy money though not as much as Rachel for her flight out of Morocco. During this time Rachel talks about the anxiety and fear and how it affected her day to day life as she desperately tried to get hold of Anna to pay her the money. This part ends with Kacy and Rachel agreeing to confront Anna.
During the confrontation however, Anna is visibly upset about an article which has been written about her skipping payments at hotels in New York. It is here that it dawned on Rachel that Anna was a con artist and her story might be fake. Through her friend at Vanity Fair, Kathryn MacLeod she gets a meeting with the district attorney where she shows them all of the evidence she has of her dealings with Anna. She also works with Officer Michael McCaffrey to get Anna arrested after she skipped a trial hearing in New York to go to Los Angeles to stay at Passages, a luxury rehabilitation centre in the city.
After Anna’s arrest, Rachel is called to speak at her trial as a witness and she explains how she felt and how she answered the questions. She also speaks of her dismay at the amount of attention Anna received during her trial. How due to a reporter writing about the case it bought the attention of Netflix who wanted to make a TV series about her story. How Anna actually had a celebrity stylist for her trial to drum up plenty of interest in it. Also how the defence tried to paint Anna as some kind of anti-hero type figure.
Eventually however, Anna is charged with grand larceny, theft of services, and larceny in the second degree. She was hit with a $24,000 fine, ordered to pay reparations of about $199,000, and given a sentence of four to 12 years in state prison.
We also learn about Rachel repeated attempts to get the La Moumonia charges dropped from her account, only eventually succeeding in 2019 – almost two years after the holiday itself.
The book is a very powerful account of how easy it can be to be sucked in by the right person at the right time, even if in other circumstances someone might be more cynical and how horrendous the events must’ve been for Williams, especially when having to ask others for help to try to pay off the charges before the credit card company eventually dropped them which I think many people know can be a very hard thing to do.
I would highly recommend giving this book a read as it offers a different perspective on the Anna Delvey story and reminds people that Anna is a convicted criminal who didn’t just commit fraud against organisations, but people as well.