‘The Tinder Swindler’ Explained: Did They Catch Shimon Yahuda Hayut, a.k.a. Shimon Leviev?


“The Tinder Swindler” is one of the most intriguing documentaries that Netflix has produced this year. The rationale behind saying this is that it exposes the lacuna in our legal system because of which multiple women are still facing the repercussions of the acts that they never did. How angry would you be in your bones if it was all out there, but you couldn’t do anything about it? You know a person has cheated you, not only materialistically but also emotionally, and you know your life has become a living hell because of that. Yet, you see that person enjoying a lavish lifestyle, sitting comfortably out of the reach of our inept system, and you are left to pay for his sins.

While “The Tinder Swindler” was being made, the alleged fraudster (it pains me to use the word “alleged,” but that’s what he is till now, as no charges have been proven in the court of law) was still carrying out his operations freely and now with an added flair. The makers did invite him to be a part of the series and state his point of view, since he was still not a convicted felon, and he had every right to do so. However, the Tinder Swindler declined the offer and threatened to sue the app’s creators for defamation.

Felicity Morris has directed the documentary, ‘The Tinder Swindler,’ which brings forth the testimonies of three victims, i.e., Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm, and Ayleen Charlotte. These women take us through a story of deceit, love, emotional attachment, and anguish, that they, unfortunately, were a part of.

Who Was The Tinder Swindler?

Cecilie knew him as Simon Leviev, the son of a Israeli billionaire, Lev Leviev, and the CEO of LLD Diamonds. The moment Cecilie met him, she was transported to this world where wealth was in surplus, and materialistic things that were aspirational for most of us were a part of Simon’s day-to-day life. He was traveling in private jets, living in five-star hotels, wearing a wardrobe that was worth a fortune, and had an extravagant social life.

Later, Cecile came to know that this man’s birth name was Shimon Yahuda Hayut, and he was an Israeli national. She also found an article in Finnish that focused on how Shimon had defrauded multiple women in Israel before fleeing from there to come to London. Shimon had made Tinder his preying ground. He used to get in contact with girls, show them his best side, and later put them in a situation where they felt coerced to give him money. He created these situations in an extremely strategic manner. There were no trials left, and he was cautious about the tone of his communication. He wanted to use his influence to achieve the desired goal, and that’s why it became difficult to hold him accountable in a court of law.

How Was Shimon Yahuda Able To Execute The Perfect Scam?

To understand the modus operandi of the Tinder Swindle, it is important to understand what a Ponzi Scheme is. It is a kind of fraud where you pay off the existing investors with the money you get from the recently onboarded investors. In other words, if you can’t get anyone else on board, your scheme is doomed. Shimon Yahuda took Cecilie out on a fancy date with the money he borrowed from Ayleen and then took Pernilla to an expensive dinner with the money he borrowed from Cecilie. He generally used to tell the victims that his life was in imminent peril and he needed the money, which he had all the intention of paying back. Once the victim maxed out, he deserted them and moved to another target. Also, in a specific jurisdiction, the fraudulent sum of money was not so great as to attract the attention of the authorities. So, for example, if Shimon takes $20,000 from Cecilie in Norway, the Norwegian Police authorities consider it a minor offense. They wouldn’t consider the cumulative amounts taken from different girls in different countries altogether, which would amount to a sum that would instantly attract the attention of international agencies like Interpol.

Also, the authorities become less interested when they come to know that the amount was willingly transferred by the victim and was not taken at gunpoint. Psychological influence is, most of the time, quite difficult to prove, which Shimon knew, and that is why he was always careful about his tone of communication.

What Made The Victims Give ‘Tinder Swindler’ The Money?

Shimon Yahuda Hayut knew his game too well. He made his victims feel that money was not an issue for him when he made them privy to his flamboyant lifestyle. He left no doubt in the minds of his victims that he came from an extremely affluent background. They always thought that the nature of his problems was very different from theirs. They had no reason to believe that their Tinder match could not pay them back. He was a guy who was moving around in private jets and wearing Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Dolce & Gabbana. So all the victims were emotionally invested in the relationship. He had shown them dreams of moving in together and starting a family. So when he said that he couldn’t use his credit card and needed to borrow some money, they had absolutely no hesitation in giving him that sum.

Did They Catch Shimon Yahuda Hayut, a.k.a. Shimon Leviev?

Simon Leviev’s story was a gobsmacking act because of which the girls were in an abysmal situation. But no one knew about it until Cecilie contacted VG News. Verdens Gang (VG) was one of the biggest tabloids in Norway. They decided to cover the story as Cecilie had provided them with an extensive amount of documentation, which included whatsapp chats, audio clips, bank account statements, etc. That was enough to back up what they were saying with substantial proof. 

Through digital media today, we are all globally connected. The news, which was covered by a Norwegian tabloid, reached people from different parts of the world. Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm, and Ayleen Charlotte joined hands to inform and make people aware of this con man. Shimon had to go undercover and remove his profile from Tinder. When Ayleen Charlotte came across this article by VG, she was dating Shimon Leviev. She made a plan to swindle the Swindler himself. She first assured him that she didn’t believe what the people were saying. She then told him to give her his expensive wardrobe, which she could use to raise some money for him as she worked in the fashion industry. Ayleen Charlotte knew that the clothes he wore were worth a fortune. She sold them and never gave him a penny. The Swindler only got a taste of his own medicine because the media revealed his true identity.

Shimon Yahuda Hayut, a.k.a. Shimon Leviev, was caught by Interpol as he was traveling on a fake passport. But he was released five months later on good behavior. He was living in Tel Aviv while ‘The Tinder Swindler’ was being made and apparently has a very comfortable and luxurious lifestyle, despite the fact that his victims were still struggling to repay the large sums of loan that they had taken in order to lend him.

‘The Tinder Swindler’ is a 2022 Netflix Crime Documentary directed by Felicity Morris. It is streaming on Netflix.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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