The Stories Of New York’s Glamorous Con Artists Are The Perfect Ocean’s 8 Warm-Up

In cinemas on June 18, Ocean's 8 documents the fictional heist of a lifetime, facilitated by eight qualified, and very well-dressed, thieves. The group of women plan to rob a very, very expensive diamond necklace right off the body of actress Daphne Kluger (Anne Hathaway) during the Met Gala. And they plan to get away with it, naturally.
But, could something this really happen? Can a group of women really pull off million-dollar robberies like this in real life? They sure can! Except they eventually get caught!
In fact, it doesn't even take a group of six, five, four or even three women to successfully orchestrate a headline-worthy theft. All it takes is one really crafty criminal to pull it off . And, as in Ocean's 8, all of the best crooks are right here in New York City. While grifting and heisting are two totally different levels of cons (grifts:heists :: selling PR gifts on Poshmark:robbing the Met), stories about low-key con artists and budding criminals are extremely satisfying to read. Just this week, there was the deep dive into the schemes of New York "socialite" Anna Delvey, who was recently arrested without bail for fraud, and a New York Post piece revealing how an ex-Vogue staffer stole thousands of dollars from her former mentor. These true tales of women behaving badly are the perfect precursors to Ocean's 8 — a little aperitif for the main course. Get ready!
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The Suspect Wore Celine
Photo: Matteo Prandoni/BFA/REX/Shutterstock.
The story of Anna Delvey, a former Purple magazine intern who rocked the New York social scene, would make Debbie Ocean proud. It's so incredibly maniacal that it's hard to believe it's real. But, as they say, truth is stranger than fiction — you have to read the whole piece to truly understand the saga, and then read this pitch-perfect dream casting for the almost-inevitable movie adaptation. Basically, Delvey, who was rarely seen without her oversized Celine glasses, successfully swindled some of the poshest New York City establishments by pretending to be rich. At various points in her year-long con, Delvey forged checks and borrowed money to maintain a high-end lifestyle that matched her own ultra-luxe tastes, scamming hotels, friends, and businesses in the process. She lied about her family, her name (her real last name is Sorokin), and — based on the six counts of grand larceny she's been charged with — her finances. She was thought to be, as one of her friends recall, so rich she must have lost track of her money.
Delvey was finally arrested in Malibu late last summer after she burned enough bridges, and enough checks bounced for the mirage around her to be shattered. The 27-year-old is currently in jail on Rikers Island, being held without bail in advance of a trial. She still maintains that she has more money than people think, even telling the New York reporter that she should at least be given the chance to bail herself out: “If they were doubting — ‘Oh, she can’t pay for anything’— why not give me bail and see? If I was such a fraud, it would be such an easy resolution. Will she bail herself out?” We love a relentless grifter!
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The Assistant Who Vogued Her Way Out
While not nearly as convoluted as the chronicles of Anna Delvey, Yvonne Bannigan's crimes are equally glamorous. The former assistant to Vogue Creative Director Grace Coddington decided it would be a good and safe and without-consequence idea to charge more than £37,000 in expenses on Coddington's credit card, and sell thousands of dollars worth of Coddington's stuff on the website TheRealReal.
The Post points out that Bannigan's LinkedIn lists former positions at other glossy magazines, which means she could have been selling stolen goods from other editors, too. It's really crazy when people think they won't get caught – even though their schemes involve a painfully clear digital paper trail.
The Girl Who Played Vice
Way back in 2009, at the arguable peak of hipster culture, a woman named Kari Ferrell changed the game — the hipster grifter game, that is. Ferrell became a notorious fixture around Brooklyn after she schemed her way into the offices of Vice, wrote £45,000 worth of bad checks, and lied about being pregnant to potential boyfriends, all while also being wanted in Salt Lake City for fraudulent activity. The 22-year-old eventually returned to Utah to serve her jail-time, promising in an interview to The Daily Beast that once out, she would not engage in any illegal activity. However, in 2016, Ferrell pretended to work at Refinery29 (yeah, this place!) to attend Fashion Week. Old habits die hard.
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Ferrell also appears to have inspired a character on the HBO series High Maintenance in the form of Homeless Heidi, who uses her boyfriend's bank accounts to fund her entire life.
The Crew Who Robbed For Fun
Even though this is a not a solo con job and takes place on the Left Coast, we would be remiss to not mention one of the most iconic crimes of the millennium. Known in the pop culture world as the "bling ring," Neiers and her Los Angeleno pals robbed celebrities of more than $3 million worth of clothes, jewels, and other luxury goods because they wanted know what if felt like to feel rich and powerful, too. The kids were caught because they couldn't stop talking about their successful midnight heists into the homes of Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and many others. At the time of the robberies, Neiers also coincidentally kicked off a brief stint as a reality television star with the show Pretty Wild, which led to an infamous voicemail to Vanity Fair contributor Nancy Jo Sales; she became the face of spoiled and narcissistic youth in the late 2000s and later a popular film from Sofia Coppola, The Bling Ring.
Deemed an "organised crime spree" by LAPD officers, the alleged mastermind behind the crimes, Rachel Lee, served a year for their crimes, while Neiers served 30 days and paid one famous theft victim, Orlando Bloom, £450,000. At the end of the day, these teens didn't want anything — they wanted everything. Like our Ocean's family, they just wanted to rob!
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