Rachel Williams, the real-life woman who befriended and was scammed out of money by fake German heiress Anna Sorokin, is suing Netflix for how she is depicted in its scripted series “Inventing Anna.”
Williams is suing the streaming service for defamation and false light invasion of privacy, according to court documents obtained by NBC News. Williams’ attorney alleges in the complaint that Netflix deliberately portrayed her as “greedy, snobbish, disloyal, dishonest, cowardly, manipulative and opportunistic person” for dramatic purposes.
Williams is portrayed by actor Katie Lowes in the miniseries about Anna Sorokin, also known as Anna Delvey, the convicted con artist who defrauded Williams out of more than $62,000 and scammed others.
An attorney for Williams, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs, told NBC News that the reason they filed the lawsuit was Netflix’s use of Williams’ real name and biographical details and “made her out to be a horrible person, which she is not.”
Rufus-Isaacs added that the “devastating damage to her reputation could have been avoided if only Netflix had used a fictitious name and different details.”
Netflix did not immediately response to TODAY’s request for comment.
The complaint details scenes from the series that Williams claims to be untrue, including that she was “sponging off Sorokin by allowing her to pay” for meals, gifts and more.
Williams also denies abandoning Sorokin during a trip to Morocco, which the show depicts.
“Williams did not stop being friends with Sorokin because Sorokin was having problems in Morocco, but rather because she subsequently discovered on her return to New York that Sorokin was a liar and a con artist whose statements and promises had induced Williams to incur liabilities of around $62,000 on Sorokin’s behalf were false, and who only reimbursed her $5,000 despite numerous promises to reimburse her $70,000 to account for the full debt and any late fees incurred,” the lawsuit states.
The complaint also claims that following the show, she was “the subject of thousands of such abusive messages” from people online.
“The catastrophic damage to Williams’ reputation was completely avoidable,” the complaint states, adding that while she “does not challenge Netflix’s right to have an unpleasant character” in the series, the creators could have used a fictitious name like they gave “to many of the real life protagonists in the Sorokin saga ... but it did not afford Williams the same protection.”
Williams first opened up about her experience with Sorokin in a 2018 Vanity Fair article and subsequent book published in 2019. “Inventing Anna” is adapted from a 2018 New York magazine article.
The show, starring Julia Garner as Sorokin, was released Feb. 11. In May, Williams appeared on an episode of Facebook Watch’s “Red Table Talk,” during which she noted how the show dramatized their Morocco trip.
“The Netflix show has it sort of like a scary, dramatic confrontation with, like, the threat of violence, and then Anna, like, very worked up,” she said. “What was actually more alarming was that in real life, Anna was cool as a cucumber. She didn’t seem to register the seriousness, the risk. Normal people have alarm bells going off when you’re being told you can’t leave somewhere, especially in a foreign country.”
After spending thousands of dollars during the trip, Williams said she finally went to the police to report Sorokin.
After being found guilty of swindling and attempting to swindle banks and hotels out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Sorokin served about two years in prison.
She was released on parole in February 2021. Six weeks later, she was taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for having overstayed her visa and was later reportedly deported to Germany.