This week Netflix released the highly anticipated true-crime documentary, The Tinder Swindler.
This documentary tells the story of Simon Leviev, or as he is really known, Shimon Yehuda Hayut who conned women into falling in love with him by pretending to be the son of a diamond dealer. Once he had earned their trust Leviev would siphon money from these women, promising to pay them back only to leave them with a mountain of debt.
In this documentary, we meet three women who fell victim to Hayut’s scheme and they relay the story of their time with the conman in detail.
This detail helps to showcase just how good Hayut was at what he did. At times Hayut was playing more than one woman and using the money from one target to lure in another. It’s a sadistic game of leap frog and you won’t be able to pull your eyes away.
The first person we meet is Cecilie Fjellhoy who matched with Hayut on Tinder under his alias Simon Leviev. After matching with him Fjellhoy says she searched his name online because that’s what one should do. The results she found painted an accurate picture of who Hayut claimed to be and it helped that Hayut had picked the same surname as Lev Leviev, who is also known as the King of Diamonds. Hayut has no real relation to Lev Leviev.
As Fjellhoy recounts her experience with dating Hayut it becomes clear that something is fishy. The man is constantly travelling and living a lavish lifestyle while talking about “deals” that never close. After a month Fjellhoy tells a story about a late night call from Hayut in which he claims he and his bodyguard were attacked. He provides photos and video and it’s all rather convincing. It’s at this point that the scam materialises.
Claiming his life is under threat from his nameless, faceless “enemies”, Hayut asks Fjellhoy to send him money by way of sending him a copy of her credit card. She complies and Hayut proceeded to max out the credit cards and leave Fjellhoy with crushing debt.
Hayut seemingly used this pattern on multiple women and as one of the victims mentions in the documentary, the amount of money he was spending likely meant he was scamming a lot of women.
Importantly, the victims here aren’t at fault. While one could argue that they shouldn’t have given him their money, we’d argue that if your partner is in trouble, you are more than likely going to help them. That’s the scam here and its one that’s old as time and yet, people still manage to get away with this.
Thankfully, the Tinder Swindler has a somewhat happy ending but it’s by no means justice for what Hayut did to these women. And that brings us to something that this documentary and Don’t Fu*k with Cats (which was also directed by Felicity Morris) highlights wonderfully – law enforcement sucks at catching online criminals.
Despite being wanted by Interpol and Israeli law enforcement, Hayut was able to make use of Tinder and travel freely through Europe. Sure, he travelled using cards that weren’t his own but the fact that he was able to do so much damage before he was caught is incredibly unnerving. Even worse was that Hayut was a known entity but he seemingly slipped through the cracks.
What we feel the Tinder Swindler highlights is how law enforcement needs to start making use of technology in the fight against crime.
This is an incredibly difficult subject to broach however because technology is flawed and these flaws could lead to innocent people being arrested or having their privacy infringed upon.
We would have loved to see some comment from law enforcement in this documentary but even without it, the film stands strong.
The Tinder Swindler is out now on Netflix and it’s the perfect doccie to download and watch when loadshedding hits, especially given its almost two hour runtime.