Education is often something that many people take for granted. In places where opportunities for learning are few and far between, some individuals are willing to go to incredible lengths to further their careers. Taken too far, however, these efforts may actually prove harmful, even to those with the best of intentions.
For one young man, his decision to seek an education overseas led him to become the focal point of an elaborate scheme that jeopardized his promising future. Education is important, but is it really worth one’s life?
Asher Potts is a small-town high-school student with big-time dreams. A member of the National Honor Society, he aspires to attend a top university and pursue a career in engineering. Or, so he’d like you to believe.
In reality, Asher Potts is actually Artur Samarin, a 22-year-old Ukrainian from the city of Nova Kakhovka. A brilliant student, Samarian felt trapped by the limitations of a country still recovering from Communism and sought to pursue an education in the United States.
With his sights set on America, Samarin applied for an exchange program that would allow him to work in the U.S. temporarily. Though his family was struggling financially, they did everything they could to help make their son’s dream a reality.
Samarin managed to secure a place in the program and was granted permission to work and live in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Samarin was thrilled to be one step closer to the life of his dreams — or, at least, that’s what he believed.
Rina Pitucci / Flickr
Samarin arrived in Harrisburg in 2012. While his kitchen job paid more than he would’ve made back in the Ukraine, there was no way he was going to save up enough to attend an American university.
But Samarin was fortunate enough to befriend Stephayne and Michael Potts, an older couple with no children of their own. They proposed a plan that would change Samarin’s life forever.
Michael Potts / Facebook
According to Stephayne and Mike, Samarin could have his American visa extended if they were to adopt him. However, at 19, Samarin was well over the age of adoption.
Samarin was torn, but in the end, he agreed to the plan. And so, with the proper paperwork in place, Artur Samarin became Asher Potts, Stephayne and Mike’s 14-year-old adoptive son. Happy as he was, Samarin’s new life would come at a price.
The Potts forced Samarin to enroll as a student at the local Harrisburg High. Samarin managed to attract little attention to himself. When questioned about his accent, Samarin told students he was from a Russian-Jewish community.
The plan was a success. Not only did he receive straight As, but he also made a number of friends, became an active volunteer at a local soup kitchen, and even joined the Navy Reserve Officers Training Corps.
Lebanon Daily News
He attended summer math and science classes at Penn State University and took a prominent role on the student school board. The mayor of Harrisburg even proposed an “Asher Potts Day” in honor of all the young man had done!
Dozens of offers from top universities began to pour in as Samarin neared his senior year, but all was not well in the young man’s life. According to Samarin, the Potts had begun to grow abusive.
Fed up with his treatment, Samarin finally found the nerve to leave and moved in with a friend. Unfortunately, the Potts made good on their threats. Stephayne and Mike contacted immigration services soon after.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement / Flickr
In February of 2016, two police officers arrived at Harrisburg High and arrested Samarin in the middle of class. Addressing him by his real name, the officers marched the young man past a crowd of his stunned peers and into the back of their vehicle.
As authorities began an investigation into Samarin’s deception, the full extent of his crimes became known. Not only was he guilty of illegally outstaying his visa and falsely receiving a state-funded education, but Samarin also filled out a passport application under the name Asher Potts, making him guilty of document fraud as well.
Investigators discovered that during his time at Harrisburg High, Samarin had been involved in a romantic relationship with a 15-year-old girl. But instead of being a 17-year-old like he had claimed, Samarin was actually 22 at the time, making any sexual interaction between the two a serious crime.
Samarin was eventually convicted of statutory sexual assault and several fraud charges. The Potts family were also given probation for their role in Samarin’s hoax, and Stephayne — who had an existing criminal record — was ordered to spend five months behind bars.
To Samarin’s relief, he spent just under a year in prison before being deported. Numerous versions of Samarin’s story have emerged, with the Potts couple even claiming that Samarin wanted to launch an armed attack on Harrisburg High. The media, of course, was quick to jump on these accusations.
Samarin maintains his innocence, however, stating that he was mistreated by the U.S. government and that he only came to the country to pursue an education.
Arthur Samarin / Facebook
Samarin is still studying in the Ukraine. He wants to become an engineer. Though his time in America may have stained his reputation, he hopes to one day leave his country again in search of greater opportunities.
“A coal doesn’t want to be a coal,” Samarin explained in a 2018 interview, “it wants to be a diamond.” Unfortunately, not many people are finding it easy to empathize with Samarin — and he may have one infamous New York “socialite” to thank for that…
Arthur Samarin / Facebook
Anna Delvey was the life of the party. She fit in with Manhattan’s elite effortlessly, but she certainly had secrets. Her accent led people to conclude she was European, and her wads of cash led people to conclude that she was very wealthy, despite being only 25. Who was this new socialite on the scene?
Anna’s story started on February 18, 2017, when she first checked in to 11 Howard, a fancy hotel in SoHo, Manhattan. Staff noticed her right away. After all, she tipped everyone $100 every time she saw them, and it was money that would pay off…
Anna quickly befriended a concierge who was roughly her same age. She asked Neff Davis from Crown Heights, Brooklyn for restaurant suggestions, but seemed to already know of every one that Neff suggested. “This was not a guest who wanted my advice, this was a guest who wanted my time.”
Neff didn’t mind spending time with Anna since she was grateful for her generous tips. Even the bellboys literally fought to help Anna because they knew that they would get a Benjamin. Anna threw cash around wherever she went.
Anna and Neff got along well and started visiting bars, restaurants, and clubs together, even mixing with artists like Guido Cacciatori, Gro Curtis, and Giorgia Tordini. Anna seemed particularly interested and knowledgeable in the world of fashion and art.
Anna knew how to climb up the social ladder, rung by rung, and kept working hard to meet even more famous, more wealthy, more successful people. She began hosting dinners and parties until all of her friends’ friends knew her name. But she always kept Neff nearby.
One night, thanks to Anna, Neff even found herself seated next to her childhood idol, Macaulay Culkin. “Which was awkward,” she said. “Because I had so many questions. And he was right there. Still, I never got the chance to be like, ‘So, your the godfather to Michael Jackson’s kids?'”
One of the closest friends Anna collected was Michael Xufu Huang, an art collector who founded his first museum at the age of 22. They planned a trip to Europe together, but Anna asked him to put flights and hotels on his credit cards, promising to pay him back… but she never did. That’s when her secrets started unraveling.
You see, Huang had seen Anna spend money, so he figured she’d be good for it. They had a great time in Venice, but when they returned, she never offered to pay him back. It didn’t seem too big of a deal, and she got away with it — this time.
It was a few weeks before her birthday when she hired a PR firm to throw her an unforgettable b-day bash at one of her favorite restaurants, Sadelle’s. When it came time to pay up, Anna was gone. The firm even contacted Huang to see if he knew where to find her, but he was just as stumped. But he knew one thing: Anna wasn’t someone he could trust anymore.
Huang began asking around to see if anyone had a deeper insight into Anna’s life. Not only did nobody know her whereabouts they also didn’t know her origin. Some assumed she was Russian, or Polish, or German. A few thought she came from oil money while others thought she was the child of a diplomat. The only thing they were certain about was her interest in parties and art.
Truthfully, Anna wasn’t just a socialite: she had a plan. She wanted to make the right contacts in the art world to set up an exclusive club with a focus on art. She had her eyes set on 281 Park Avenue South and would call it the Anna Delvey Foundation, or ADF.
Marc Kremers was a creative director and digital designer from London whom Anna convinced to work with her on the ADF. The club would have a German bakery, restaurants, a basement nightclub, an artist residency program, and roof terrace overlooking Central Park. He said at first she was “a pleasure to work with.”
But, after several months, the bills once again piled up, and Marc saw no money. “Hundreds of painful emails followed,” Mar said, “complete with fictitious financial managers CCed, who’d muscle in every-time I threatened to seek legal action. As a small business owner, it was a grueling ride and nearly shut us down.” The project was put on indefinite hold.
It was then that Anna met Martin Shkreli, an infamous businessman and hedge fund manager. He would soon be convicted of securities fraud, but not before giving Anna some tips.
Not long after, her hotel discovered that they didn’t have a working credit card on file and locked her out. She did what Martin advised and threatened to buy web domains in all the hotel managers names; in order to use them in the future, they would have to pay her tons of money. Her dark side was starting to show…
Things had gone awry for Anna. There was little progress with the ADF and she was moving from hotel to hotel while avoiding paying for anything. She literally fled the country by taking a trip to Morocco with her personal trainer and her friend, Vanity Fair‘s Rachel Deloache Williams.
Of course, Rachel never saw a dime. “She walked into my life in Gucci sandals and Céline glasses,” Rachel recalled, “and showed me a glamorous, frictionless world of hotel living and Le Coucou dinners and infrared saunas and Moroccan vacations. And then she made my $62,000 disappear.”
By July of 2017, everything had fallen apart. Anna was arrested for three counts of misdemeanor theft of services (including a dine-and-dash) and was released without bail. Now she had nowhere to go, and no one left to turn to — not even Neff. Her old friends staged an intervention and told her the ADF was sold. With nothing left to lose, she tried to escape once again.
Using the last of her money and her tricks, Anna traveled to California, where she tried to hide in a rehabilitation center. Meanwhile, back in New York, the press got hold of her story, and slowly but certainly, the mystery that was Anna Delvey began to unravel…
The truth was: Anna Delvey didn’t exist! Anna was really Anna Sorokin, a German-Russian girl from a working-class family. She tried attending the Central Saint Martins Art School in London but dropped out. She worked at Purple Magazine in Paris before moving to New York City at the age of 25. Anna Delvey got away with everything, but Anna Sorokin couldn’t.
In October of 2017, she was arrested on six charges of grand larceny for scamming wealthy NYC business acquaintances and several hotels. According to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the damage was as high as $275,000. She rejected a plea deal and faced a 15-year prison sentence.
Once in Riker’s Island, Anna used her sly ways to befriend all the right prisoners. Perhaps that was how she learned how to post “throwback” pictures from jail because an old photo of her and Neff mysteriously appeared on her Instagram page.
TV producer and screenwriter Shonda Rhimes was set to produce a Netflix series detailing Anna’s scandalous New York adventures. While a couple actors have shown interest in the lead role, Anna stated she wanted Jennifer Lawrence or Margot Robbie to portray her. She actually seemed more worried about casting than her upcoming trial.
Anna conned friends and businesses out of $275,000, using falsified documents to get multiple bank loans. She floated bad checks and took out lines of credit. The plan was to pay it all back with money from the ADF, but the money never came.
How well do you really know the people around you? While you might think you know exactly who can you trust, the truth of the matter is, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes, the people we think we know best are actually living a giant lie.
When yet another woman named Anna met her perfect man, they both seemed thrilled to have found the loves of their lives. But what this man didn’t know would hurt him: his perfect girl was keeping secrets that could very much change the world…
When you’ve got a bright, unforgettable look, you tend to stand out in a crowd. And when you stand out, no one suspects you of hiding anything. That was to the benefit of Anna Kushchenko, a woman with an IQ of 162 and flaming red hair.
Born in 1982 in Stalingrad, Russia, Anna grew up accustomed to a fairly luxurious lifestyle. Her mother was a teacher, but her father was a Russian diplomat who mostly worked in Kenya. Anna was a star pupil and went on to study economics in Moscow.
Like most wealthy college students, Anna used her long summers off to travel and explore the world. In the summer of 2001, she visited London, and immersed herself in the local nightlife. One evening, she met a man who immediately captured her attention.
His name was Alex Chapman. “I knew right away I had to talk to her,” he said. The two hit it off and continued to see each other, with Anna flying back and forth between Moscow and London for the rest of her studies.
After dating for just 5 months, the couple got married. They knew their families would be skeptical, so they decided not to tell them right away. This would be the first in a long string of secrets the two would keep from their families — and from each other.
Keeping their marriage a secret was not only technically difficult but emotionally as well. A few months after their wedding, Alex and Anna Chapman went to visit Anna’s parents in Africa. That was when Alex first met Anna’s dad, the curious Vasily Kushchyenko.
Alex mentioned that Vasily was “scary” and that he had a “huge influence” on his daughter. Vasily didn’t trust Alex for one second, and Alex was not fond of his new father-in-law, either. The newlyweds soon returned to London, and Alex tried to shake off the haunting memory of Vasily as best as he could.
As the couple settled into married life and Anna received an English passport, everything seemed to go perfectly. Anna graduated with first-class honors and took up jobs at big investment corporation, landing gigs at NetJets and Barclays. Slowly but certainly, her behavior began to change.
Around 2005, according to Alex, Anna started increasingly meeting with people she referred to as “Russian friends.” If this was the only issue, Alex may have let it slide, but Anna seemed to become a completely different person.
Suddenly she was more materialistic than before, spending all her money on designer clothes, bags, and jewelry, which she probably needed to fit in with her new V.I.P. friends. She attended party after party, bragging about whom she met, “like a midlife crisis,” Alex said.
By 2006, Alex and Anna had grown apart and filed for divorce. Despite the many connections she had made in London, Anna decided to move back to Moscow — but not before telling Alex a crucial family secret.
Her father, she said, used to be a top agent in the notorious Soviet spy agency, the KGB! Leaving Alex to mull this over, she returned to Moscow. Nobody heard from her for several years; only her closest friends and relatives knew that she was even still alive.
Years later, Anna finally popped up again in New York City. Nobody understood her sudden decision to relocate to America — she always claimed she didn’t like the place and mocked American accents when she watched TV. And yet, here she was, posing in front of the statue of liberty.
Anna got to work immediately and quickly became the head of an international real estate business. When she wasn’t working (in an office), she was out mingling with members of the high society, and it was soon rumored that she was dating New Jersey tycoon Michel Bittan.
On one hot summer day in 2012, Anna received a strange call from a man who called himself Roman; he claimed to be a Russian consular official. He asked her to meet him at a coffee shop using a code phrase.
“Didn’t we meet in L.A. last summer?” he asked when they met, and Anna, well-trained, knew exactly how to respond: “No, I think it was the Hamptons,” she said, using the code phrase.
Roman asked her to deliver a fake passport to an alleged spy in an agreed-upon location the following day. Anna hesitated — she had never met this man before, nor had she ever received similar instructions, but she took the passport anyway.
Once the meeting was over, she immediately bought an untraceable burner phone and anxiously placed a call to her father, Vasily. He told her to hand the passport over to the police right away. That way, it would seem like she did the right thing in case it was a trap.
Unfortunately for Anna, it was already too late. The FBI had been tracking and watching her for months, and they finally had enough evidence to put her in cuffs. She instantly became a sensation as her picture was splashed across newspaper covers and details of her deep-cover mission on behalf of Russia were exposed.
The FBI reported that it once tracked her sending secret signals to a Russian diplomat from inside a bookstore in New York, so they bugged her, recorded her, and followed her every move. Her encounter with “Roman” was only the final straw. The jig was up for Anna.
As it turned out, Anna was only one of a ring of 10 Russian “sleeper” agents busted that summer — a spy. She ended up confessing her sins to avoid a lengthy trial and was instead sent back on a one-way plane to Moscow in return for four double agents who were destined for the U.S. and England.
Surprisingly enough, the captured spies were greeted at home by none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. A former KGB agent himself, Putin celebrated the returning comrades.
Far from being treated as criminals, the uncovered agents were hailed as heroes in a grand ceremony full of fanfare and patriotic music. It wasn’t an outcome even Anna expected.
Now, everybody knew the name, Anna Chapman. People wondered how on earth she could have pulled all of this off by herself. During one of her many media appearances in Russia, Chapman hinted that her secret weapon had been the art of seduction.
In fact, she was suspected of trying to seduce famous American whistleblower Edward Snowden. She once Tweeted at him “Will you marry me?” but Snowden couldn’t tell if she was serious or not. When she was asked about it on a TV interview, she simply stormed out.
The man she was once actually married to, Alex, had given several interviews about their relationship since the arrest, mostly to Anna’s dismay. However, in May 2018, he was suddenly found dead at the age of 36. It was written off as natural causes, but many people suspected otherwise.
Anna was fairing much better, becoming a multi-millionaire with her fashion boutique, financial consultancy, and glamorous photoshoots. She even landed a gig on a local TV show and dove into politics, but nothing surprised her fans more than her sudden hiatus.
While Anna had been avidly posting on social media for years, she suddenly disappeared from the spotlight for a while in 2015. As it turned out, she had been hiding a pregnancy and gave birth to a son. She did not share the identity of the father.
Since then, Anna has been focusing less on modeling and more on a political youth movement. With her seat on the Young Guard of United Russia (the youth wing of Vladimir Putin’s party), she has been “engaged in educating young people.”
No matter how, it seems that Anna is adamant about remaining in the spotlight, making both the press and her fans very happy. After all, she seems to have been born for this.
There is no telling what this “former” spy will do next, but there have been whispers about her running for office. With a wildcard like Anya Kushchenko, only time can tell.