Swiping right on Mr. Right? Not so fast. Shimon Hayut, the con man introduced in Netflix’s gripping new true crime documentary The Tinder Swindler, has been banned from the dating app after the two-hour film debuted on the streaming service. Keep reading to learn all about his alleged scams, jail time and more.
Who Is ‘Simon Leviev’ and What Is His Real Name?
Hayut, who went by the name “Simon Leviev,” met several women on the popular dating app Tinder and would convince them to believe he was the son of Israeli diamond tycoon Lev Leviev and CEO of luxury diamond company LLD Diamonds, Lev Leviev, going on luxurious outings and wooing them with his opulent lifestyle. (LLD Diamonds and Lev are real, however, Simon is not).
He later allegedly conned women into taking out extensive personal loans and sending him large amounts of cash, claiming his life was in danger because of his “enemies.” Three of the alleged victims — Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjöholm and Ayleen Charlotte — are featured in the film, as well as journalists from Norwegian newspaper VG, who helped unravel the clues.
Israel Police and Interpol believe Hayut is a serial fraudster who may have conned an estimated 10 million dollars out of women he met on the dating app.
What Is His Backstory?
Hayut was previously convicted of defrauding three Finnish women under his birth name, having spent three years behind bars prior to his release and disappearance in 2017, the newspaper Haaretz reported. He left his native country of Israel in 2011 to avoid fraud-related offenses he committed in his younger years and fled to Europe for a second time while changing his name to Simon Leviev.
How Did He Swindle The Women?
Hayut had a way of sweeping women off their feet, intriguing them with luxurious first dates (often at the Four Seasons Hotel) and later offering private jet flights.
However, after getting much closer to the women, Hayut would begin to open up about the threats he was facing from “enemies” because of the line of work he was in.
Eventually, he would send bloodied photos of his bodyguard, asking the women to open a line of credit in their name and give it to him since he couldn’t use his own due to security concerns. Although some women did seem to hesitate, they were open to the idea because of the lavish outings they had been on with “Simon.”
How Did He Get Caught?
In January 2018, Fjellhøy matched with Simon on the dating app and went on to have a romantic relationship with him and be swindled out of an estimated $200,000.
Sjöholm, whom he met via Tinder in March 2018, didn’t feel a romantic spark with Simon, but they became friends, or so she thought. She ended up sending Simon an estimated $67,857 after being sent the same bloodied photos and hearing his story.
Both Fjellhøy and Sjöholm ultimately went to the media to tell their story. Eventually, one of Hayut’s long-term girlfriends, Koeleman, saw the VG article and decided to get some revenge by selling his designer clothes while keeping the money. She pretended to still be in love with him and helped aid in his arrest at the Athens airport on June 28, 2019. He was brought into custody for using a fake passport and the Tinder scheme was not included in his charges.
That year, Hayut was convicted of four counts of fraud and spent five months of a 15-month sentence in an Israeli prison.
Is He Still on Tinder?
“We banned Simon Leviev and any of his known aliases as soon as the story of his actions became public in 2019. He is permanently banned from Tinder. In the lead up to the release of the documentary, we conducted additional internal investigations and can confirm Simon Leviev is not active on Tinder under any of his known aliases,” a Tinder spokesperson told In Touch on February 7.
What Did Shimon Hayut and LLD Diamonds Say About the Film?
“LLD Diamonds has been a well-regarded leader in the diamond industry for three decades. Our company has no connection whatsoever with Shimon Hayut. He is a fraud who has tried to exploit our good name to con victims out of millions of dollars,” a spokesperson for the company told Newsweek. “Our sympathies go out to his victims. His fraud has also caused ongoing confusion about our company. Nothing he has said, about LLD or anything else, should be believed.”
Hayut, for his part, reportedly took to Instagram Stories with a message before deleting his account, according to The Independent. It read, “I will share my side of the story in the next few days when I have sorted out the best and most respectful way to tell it, both to the involved parties and myself. Until then, please keep an open mind and heart.”
In February 2022, the real Leviev family sued Hayut, claiming in documents filed in Tel Aviv, Israel, on behalf of Lev and other members of the family that “for a long time, he [Simon Leviev] has been making false representations as being the son of Lev Leviev and receiving numerous benefits (including material ones).”
In the filing obtained by People, they also allege that Hayut “cunningly using false words, claiming to be a member of the Leviev Family, and that his family will pay and bear the costs of his benefits.”
It is unclear if Hayut has responded to the lawsuit or if he has retained legal represent who can speak on his behalf.
What Happened to the Women in the Doc?
Fjellhøy, Sjöholm and Charlotte have launched a GoFundMe fundraiser, explaining, “All we want are our lives back.”
According to the documentary, Hayut now lives as a free man, and he has not been charged for any crimes that allegedly occurred outside of Israel.
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