The journalist filed a lawsuit on Monday (29 August) claiming that she was falsely depicted in the drama as “unethical,” “greedy,” “snobbish” and “disloyal.”
Williams was a friend of the con artist and fraudster Anna Sorokin, who posed as wealthy German heiress Anna Delvey to access the upper echelons of the New York social and art scenes from 2013 to 2017.
Williams was defrauded out of $62k (£52.9k) and wrote a Vanity Fair article and a book about the experience.
The lawsuit, which was accessed by Variety, states 16 separate sets of defamatory statements about Williams.
“This action will show that 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,” the suit reads.
The writer’s attorney Alexander Rufus-Isaacs claimed that his client has suffered extreme online backlash ever since Inventing Anna was released.
“If you want to base a character on a real person, and you want to make them a baddie, don’t use their real name,” Rufus-Isaacs said in a statement. “I wish creatives would understand that. If they want to make an unpleasant character, they can’t use a real person’s name unless everything they say is absolutely gospel.”
Inventing Anna led to “a torrent of online abuse, negative in-person interactions, and pejorative characterisations in podcasts” for Williams, according to the suit.
After the series’ release, “thousands” of hateful messages were sent to Williams, some of which called her a “Karen,” a “gold digging mooch,” a “cry baby,” and a “greedy clown”.
The Independent has contacted Netflix for comment.
On Monday, Sorokin posted to her Instagram story that she would “gladly” make herself available to testify about Williams.
“You know where to find me,” wrote Sorokin, who remains in federal custody as she awaits deportation to Germany.