Netflix has found itself at the centre of a legal battle over the depiction of Rachel DeLoache Williams in their popular miniseries, ‘Inventing Anna.’
The 34-year-old, from Tennessee, who was portrayed on-screen by Scandal actress Katie Lowes, filed a defamation lawsuit against Netflix over her depiction earlier this week.
According to court documents, filed in the U.S. District Court of Delaware: “Netflix made a deliberate decision for dramatic purposes to show Williams doing or saying things in the Series which portray her as a greedy, snobbish, disloyal, dishonest, cowardly, manipulative and opportunistic person.”
A statement was issued by Williams’ attorney, Alexander Rufus-Isaacs to PEOPLE magazine, saying: "Netflix used Rachel’s real name and biographical details, and made her out to be a horrible person, which she is not."
The lawsuit also claims that she is wrongfully depicted in the show as accepting expensive gifts, clothes, jewellery - and was generally “sponging off” Anna Sorokin/Delvey.
The Netflix series was based on the true story of con-artist Anna Sorokin, who once worked in New York’s high society.
Sorokin, 31, was a Russian-born German who initially moved to New York in 2013, and set herself up with a fake identity as Anna Delvey - a wealthy German heiress.
The series follows the fake heiress as she scams multiple people out of thousands of dollars, among her victims is Vanity Fair photo editor, Rachel DeLoache Williams, who she met through mutual friends.
Williams initially became friends with Sorokin in 2016, and they started socialising with others, which later led to an extravagant six-night friends trip to Morocco.
The trip ended abruptly when Sorokin/Delvey’s supposed ‘wire-transfers’ didn’t go through and Williams was hit with the $62,000 bill, which she paid for using her corporate credit card.
The sum of money was more than her annual salary and she allegedly wasn’t able to pay her bills or her rent because of the debt.
She also reportedly spent around six months trying to get Anna to pay her back.
In 2018, Rachel, who currently works as a writer and photographer, went on to write about her experience with Sorokin for Vanity Fair.
The following year, Williams wrote a book, called ‘My Friend Anna: The True Story of a Fake Heiress,’ which is now a New York Times Bestseller.
The lawsuit highlights particular scenes in the miniseries, such as when Rachel’s character abandons Anna during the Morocco trip - this is stated as not true.
Another scene in the drama shows Lowes’ helping with the police arrest, something that Williams has also denied to be true.
The lawsuit states: "In reality, she never did or said those things."
"Thus, this action is based firmly on statements of fact which are demonstrably false and the attribution of statements that she never made."
The document references multiple quotes from Lowes, 39, depiction of Williams, and they appear to support the argument that aspects of her character were fictionalised, for the sake of the plot.
It is also argued that many of the real-life characters in the Anna Sorokin story were given fictional names from Netflix, such as her tech entrepreneur boyfriend, Chase.
However, Williams wasn’t offered the same protection, as her real name and personal details, such as neighbourhood and employer were all referenced in the series.
Netflix are yet to comment publicly since this action against them.
After stealing an estimated $270,000 from the New York elite, conning banks and friends out of millions, she was finally found guilty of eight charges in 2019.
This included attempted grand larceny in the first, second and third degree and thefts of service.
This resulted in her being sentenced to four to 12 years in prison, a fine for $24,000, and $198,956 in restitution.
After two years in prison she was released on good behaviour, and is currently in an ICE detention centre.
‘Inventing Anna’ is still available to watch on Netflix.