Stephen Sinclair is a Canadian freelance writer who has been publishing professionally for several years.
Is 'The Tinder Swindler' Real?
Is Netflix's 2022 'The Tinder Swindler' A Documentary?
As a true-crime documentary, the 2022 Netflix film The Tinder Swindler is a true story based upon the life of Simon Leviev, a real person. However, he was born Shimon Hayut. According to The Mirror, Hayut changed his name to Leviev so that he could pretend he was related to "billionaire Russian-Israeli diamond mogul, Lev Leviev."
Shimon Hayut has been swindling people for the past "decade," according to Vanity Fair. His now famous dating-app modus operandi involved connecting with sincere young women using the popular Tinder app, sweeping them off their feet with "private-jet rides, luxury hotel stays, and proclamations of love," and then feigning an emergency that required they provide him with cash or allow him use of their credit cards.
One of Hayut's victims who appears in the Netflix documentary is Cecilie Fjellhøy. The then 29-year-old London resident was "swept" into a world of "luxury" by Hayut, who appeared in the cockpit of a jet wearing a pilot's uniform in a photo featured on his Tinder profile, as reported by ABC News.
Fjellhøy and Hayut's first date involved a private jet flight to Bulgaria. He told the bedazzled woman that he was an "Israeli billionaire" known as the "Prince of Diamonds."
Their first month of dating continued with Fjellhøy being picked up by private jet and flown to whatever worldwide destination the phony billionaire found himself in on that day. Hayut spoke of threats against him by mysterious adversaries related to his diamond-dealing business as an excuse for why he never travelled to meet her.
Shimon Hayut Facts
Is a real person
Said to have stolen the last name Leviev from diamond billionaire Lev Leviev
Served five months of 15-month Israeli prison sentence for check fraud, child abuse
Alleged to have defrauded many women, businesses, and others
Is a defendant in a lawsuit by family of Lev Leviev
Currently employed by Cameo and signed by talent agent Gina Rodriguez
Where Is Simon Leviev Today?
Is Simon Leviev in Prison?
This behavior escalated to the fake diamond dealer asking Fjellhøy to allow him to use her credit cards and send him cash so that these "enemies" he alluded to could not track his whereabouts through financial records. That Leviev surrounded himself with an entourage that included a bodyguard and then sent Fjellhøy photos of the bodyguard sitting in an ambulance, bloodied from a supposed attack, only served to intensify the young woman's conviction that the love of her life was in real danger.
"The amounts that he needs to be able to just function for a week is just so much," Cecilie Fjellhøy recounted to ABC. "It's never just few thousand. For us normal people that is a lot of money, but for him it's not a lot of money."
She eventually took out loans and lost a total of $200,000 attempting to satisfy his demands before she became aware that she was the victim of a scam. Investigators with American Express contacted Fjellhøy and explained that she was the latest in a growing list of women who had been deceived by Shimon Hayut.
The Londoner stated that learning of Hayut's deception made her "almost want to throw up" and that "everything came crashing down" in her life with the news. The revelation that the so-called "Tinder Swindler" had used money she had borrowed to lure other women into similar scams necessitated that she be cared for in a "psychiatric ward."
Though an official tally might be impossible to ever complete, there appears to be a long list of women who have been lied to, manipulated, defrauded, and worse, by Shimon Hayut. Despite this, as featured with Kveller, Hayut has only spent a total of five months in prison, after being sentenced to 15 for "check fraud and for child neglect." He was released early as a result of the COVID pandemic.
What Is The 'Tinder Swindler' Doing Now?
Is Simon Leviev Still Scamming?
After the release of Netflix's The Tinder Swindler, Hayut was banned from the dating app, along with Match.com, Plenty of Fish, and OKCupid, according to NBC News.
However, he is said to continue to live in a "fancy" Tel Aviv apartment with model Kate Konlin, his girlfriend. The man who used the alias Simon Leviev was reportedly involved in bilking a "private jet and a private yacht company out of hundreds of thousands of dollars" in 2021.
Shimon Hayut, or Simon Leviev, continues to claim that women like Cecilie Fjellhøy who say that he lied to them and stole their money are the ones who are in fact "lying." He has reportedly threatened "legal action" over the Netflix documentary.
He told Inside Edition, "I'm the biggest gentleman in the world."
Chagit Leviev-Sofiev, the daughter of the real diamond mogul Lev Leviev, has brought a lawsuit against Hayut that claims that he "defrauded, cheated, conned, falsified, and hurt women... and businesses" by stealing their family name.
He posed as a healthcare worker as a ruse to get his COVID vaccination before he otherwise would have, according to the Times of Israel.
He currently offers custom videos on Cameo, with prices starting at $199 for personal messages. Videos offering messages catering to businesses cost considerably more.
ET Online reports that Hollywood talent agent Gina Rodriguez has signed Hayut as a client. She described the alleged fraudster as "the world's greatest salesman."
Daughter of Lev Leviev Sues 'Tinder Swindler' Shimon Hayut
© 2022 Stephen Sinclair