The Tinder Swindler builds an exhaustive profile of Simon Leviev (not his real name) through extensive interviews with several of the women he conned.
The feature-length documentary is available to stream on Netflix from February 2 2022 – here are some of the basic facts it covers, in case you wanted to know before watching.
Who is Simon Leviev?
Simon Leviev’s real name is Shimon Yehuda Hayut – he changed his name in 2017 to imply a connection to billionaire Lev Leviev, meaning that if you ever googled him it did seem like he might be quite rich.
Leviev is from Israel, but fled the country in 2011 when he was accused of defrauding his employer – he later spent three years in a Falklands prison for separate charges of aggravated fraud.
Not long after his release from prison – around January 2018 – Leviev met his first mark he conned over Tinder.
How did he con people?
As you’ve probably worked out by now, Leviev found his marks via Tinder – once they’d matched on Tinder and met in real life, Leviev would spend thousands on grand romantic gestures to suggest a lavish lifestyle.
After a few months getting to know them, he’d tell each woman that he was in danger, because of how fraught the diamond industry was. He’d show them pictures of a friend, beaten and bruised, and say that an attempt had been made on their life.
Leviev would then ask the women to give him a credit card in their name, so that he could lay low – each woman believed he genuinely had money, and believed he was genuinely in danger, so gave him the credit card. Leviev would then rack up huge bills under each woman’s name.
Essentially it was a very elaborate version of those “I’m very well off but can’t access my funds, could you transfer me some money and then I’ll gift you even more money?” email scams.
How was he caught?
Leviev was undertaking the scheme at such a grand scale that he was wanted by Interpol in seven different countries.
Eventually, as the documentary explains, his operation got too large – some of the women started to know and recognise one another, and local news media began to cover the story which in turn made it more difficult for him to successfully pull off the con.
Ayleen Charlotte, the woman Leviev was “dating” at the time, noticed these stories and became increasingly suspicious. When he was on a flight she paid for, Charlotte contacted the authorities with his details – and they were waiting for him at the airport when he landed.
Where is he now?
Leviev was sentenced to fifteen months in prison – for earlier and unrelated crimes, not the ones documented in The Tinder Swindler – but only served five of them before release.
In 2020 he attracted headlines once again for impersonating a frontline health worker to get early access to the Covid-19 vaccine.
He continues to live an extravagant lifestyle, and has since been seen on Tinder again.
In the weeks after The Tinder Swindler was released on Netflix, it’s been reported that Leviev has been signed by an agent specialising in representing entertainment and reality stars. According to TMZ, Leviev is now working with LA-based agent Gina Rodriguez, and the pair have plans to build his new fame into a wider platform - with projects such as a dating show or advice podcast being considered.
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