- Sam Bankman-Fried went on a media apology tour after his crypto business collapsed.
- Convicted con artist Anna Sorokin (aka Anna Delvey) thinks “he’s just trying to save himself.”
- “It’s a Ponzi scheme, what he did,” she told Insider.
Convicted con artist Anna Sorokin thinks Sam Bankman-Fried’s media apology tour is insincere, she told Insider, believing he was trying to lay the groundwork for a legal defense of her role in the collapse of FTX and the evaporation of billions of dollars.
“He’s just trying to save himself,” she told Insider on Thursday. “It would be his defense if he were to be sued: ‘I didn’t know Alameda was over-indebted’ – which is a wild claim – that it’s the girlfriend’s fault. You can already see the seeds of that .”
Sorokin herself was found guilty in 2019 of defrauding banks and hotels out of around $200,000 – a saga that was later adapted into the Netflix limited series “Inventing Anna”. Under the false name “Anna Delvey”, she posed as a wealthy heiress and sought to obtain funds to build a project called the Anna Delvey Foundation.
Bankman-Fried, too, is battling fraud charges — on a much larger scale.
His crypto exchange firm FTX collapsed in November amid reports that it appeared to be mixing funds with Alameda Research, a separate investment firm he owned that was run by Caroline Ellison, who, according to him, was also a former romantic partner. Several federal agencies are looking into his actions, which could lead to civil or criminal prosecution.
Bankman-Fried has since gone on a media apology tour, saying he believes he could have avoided FTX’s problems if he had only focused on risk management and could have saved the exchange from collapsing if it had had more time to find investors. He said he gave media interviews against the advice of his lawyers.
Other FTX executives did not seem to share his optimism. A top lawyer for the company during the collapse said Bankman-Fried’s plan to save the stock market by bolstering more investment had “0% chance of success,” The New York Times reported. Days later, John Jay Ray III, the corporate turnaround director who took over as CEO of FTX after Bankman-Fried resigned, was appalled at the state of the business.
“Never in my career have I seen such a complete failure of corporate controls and such a complete absence of reliable financial information as has occurred here,” Ray wrote in the bankruptcy filing for the company.
Sorokin thinks Bankman-Fried’s pleas to the media are insincere.
“It’s a Ponzi scheme, what he did,” she told Insider.
“He’s just looking for pity”
Through her media interviews, Bankman-Fried is trying to cultivate a more innocent image in the public eye, Sorokin speculated. She doesn’t buy it.
“If he were a woman, he would either be portrayed as a total jerk, or totally inadequate and unfit, or both,” she said. “Now he can play this seriously goofy, non-threatening, seemingly well-meaning serious guy who tries to make things right with customers.”
She believes that Bankman-Fried did not expect to find himself in the situation he is in now, and would have gone ahead with his alleged plan if Changpeng Zhao, CEO and co-founder of Binance, had not launched the crypto version. of a “bank run” on FTX.
“He didn’t expect it to explode like this,” she said. “It’s only because of CZ.”
Sorokin is also skeptical of Bankman-Fried’s claim that he only has $100,000 left. She doesn’t think that would be enough to cover her normal expenses, let alone make sense for someone who has poured millions into political advocacy groups.
“I don’t think he only had crypto. It’s not that widely accepted to be able to get one through the expenses of normal life. He’s just looking for pity,” she said. . “I’m sure all PACs accepted fiat, not crypto. He couldn’t just live entirely off company funds.”
Neither Bankman-Fried nor his attorneys immediately responded to Insider’s request for comment.
Sorokin completed her prison sentence in 2021 and paid back all the banks and other institutions she took out using the money she received from Netflix, but she is still appealing her criminal conviction. During his trial, his lawyer argued that his actions should be understood as civil rather than criminal litigation. She may have been in over her head, the lawyer argued, but she always intended to pay back every penny.
She is currently living under house arrest in midtown Manhattan as she appeals for possible deportation to Germany.
Similar to Bankman-Fried, she maintained that her initial plans were sincere and legitimate. The main reason the Anna Delvey Foundation failed, her lawyer argued at trial, was because she lacked the management skills — not because she was trying to steal.
The difference between their situations, however, is in the billions of dollars. Sorokin acknowledged that Bankman-Fried’s narrative that he was caught off guard, rather than deliberately preying on FTX customers, may be legitimate. But that doesn’t comfort her.
“I don’t know which is worse – that he actually wasn’t in control, or if he’s trying to hide it now. It’s f— scary if he was so careless.”