Publication date February 15, 2022
The Tinder Swindler – What Really Happened?
If you don't have time to see the jaw-dropping Tinder Swindler documentary, here's all you need to know about one of the most terrible fraudster cases in modern history.
It appears that every single television lover on the planet is talking about one thing right now... the Netflix phenomenon that is The Tinder Swindler. Following its release earlier this month, the gripping true crime film quickly became the first documentary to top the platform's weekly film chart. It centers on the crimes of Israeli-born conman Shimon Hayut, who, while posing as a billionaire diamond dealer's son, manipulated women from across Europe with his 'lavish lifestyle,' all the while exploiting them into paying for it themselves.
Norwegian-born London resident Cecilie Fjellhoy was swiping through the app one night when she came across the profile of Simon Leviev, a handsome, wealthy-looking Israeli man. She swiped right after noticing that many of his interests, like hers, including travel, great food, and costly trips. The two spoke via the dating app until he suggested they meet for coffee in the foyer of the opulent London hotel where he was staying.
Cecilie Googled his name, as one would, only to discover that he was the son of Russian-Israeli diamond tycoon Lev Leviev and the CEO of LLD Diamonds. Cecilie sincerely believed she had found her Prince Charming when, at the end of their date, he insisted she fly with him and his bodyguards aboard a private jet on a business trip to Bulgaria right away. She packed her belongings and boarded the plane on the spur of the moment.
She was sipping champagne when she observed another woman sitting several rows behind her on the plane with a small child on her lap. Simon revealed to her that the woman was his ex-girlfriend and the youngster was his daughter. Despite her initial confusion about their relationship, the woman informed Cecilie in a taxi ride around Bulgaria's capital that her relationship with Simon was entirely amicable and that he continued to support her and their daughter. Cecilie fell head over heels for Simon, feeling slightly more assured and believing she had just entered a fairy-tale romance.
Because Simon's busy professional life required him to travel all over the world, the first few months of their relationship were mostly happening via texting. He would send flowers and gifts to Cecilie in London while posting films of high-class business meetings on private jets and in elite beach clubs on his numerous social media sites. When the 'Prince of Diamonds' asked her to be his girlfriend, she thought she'd won the lotto.
However, things began to take an unusual turn for Cecilie in the following months, when Simon revealed that he was being targeted by his "enemies," even sharing a video of himself and his bodyguard in the back of an ambulance after being attacked with a knife on the street. He informed her that he was no longer safe and that the bank had been compelled to suspend his numerous credit cards due to a "breach of security." Simon then asked his girlfriend if she would mind linking her American Express bank account to his so he could use it in the meantime. He was continuously maxing out her credit cards and insisted on her meeting him to provide cash.
Cecilie complied to all of Simon's requests because she believed her aid was critical to her boyfriend's safety and security. She obtained loans from three different institutions in order to assist him. She gave him a total of $250,000 in loans. He would write cheques to pay her back while 'in hiding' owing to the security breach, but they always bounced when Cecilie tried to cash them. She began to worry, but Simon reassured her that everything will be OK soon.
At the same time, Pernilla Sjoholm, a Swedish socialite, was swiping her way through Tinder in search of an eligible bachelor. After a while, she stumbled across an account that immediately piqued her interest. Her screen was illuminated by an extraordinarily gorgeous man dressed in the most expensive outfits and traveling to some of the world's most exclusive locales. Simon Leviev is his name. The couple matched and began communicating until Simon persuaded Pernilla to fly to Amsterdam for a date. The two had an expensive meal at a high-end hotel before seeing the city and comparing interests.
Despite the fact that she didn't have a romantic connection with Simon, Pernilla was taken away by how similar they were and greatly loved his company. They chose to be friends and maintained regular touch in the months after their date. They would go out to eat, to bars, and even on vacation together. They took a road vacation across Europe, including Rome, Vienna, and Mykonos.
While all this was happening, Cecilie was still overwhelmed by Simon’s incessant request for money.
Now that she was being pursued by banks for repayment, Cecilie contacted American Express, who came to her London home to explain the problem. She told the bankers everything - credit cards, bank loans, shady cheques - until one of them demanded to see a photograph of Simon. 'That's him,' the two agents replied to one other.
They questioned Cecilie what name her partner had been going by before telling her that 'Simon Leviev' is one of his numerous aliases. The agents recommended her to google the name Shimon Hayut, where she discovered that a man by that name had defrauded three Finnish girls out of thousands of pounds by pretending to be their lovers several years before.
Cecilie then scrolled down to the images of these women, only to recognize one of them as the woman on the plane to Bulgaria with a child on her knee. She blocked Simon, befuddled and heartbroken.
Realizing he couldn't ask Cecilie for any more money, Simon Leviev sought assistance from his 'good friend' Pernilla. He sent her a video of himself and his bodyguard being treated by paramedics in the back of an ambulance after being attacked, the same footage he had given to Cecilie just months before. Pretending to be afraid for his safety, he asked Pernilla if he could borrow some money from her, and she consented. She gave him a $30,000 loan that she had saved to buy an apartment.
Simon began sending threatening texts to Cecilie's family after being banned by her, knowing their address and phone number. With no aid from the Norwegian police, Cecilie contacted the country's largest newspaper, VG, which immediately promised to assist. She provided the journalists with access to their messages, bank transactions, photographs, and the names of any colleagues he had ever mentioned. She also brought up the previous example involving the Finnish woman, to whom the media had unsuccessfully reached outTasked with proving that Simon Leviev and Shimon Hayut were the same people, the newspaper team traveled to his alleged hometown of Tel Aviv, Israel, where they met his mother, who told them that he did not live there anymore or get in touch with her. She did mention that he was involved in the criminal world during his adolescence. He has been wanted by Israeli authorities since 2011 for forging multiple cheques and fled the country before being charged.
The journalists were then tasked with determining the identity of persons who had lately traveled with Simon in order to get close to him.
After reviewing the information of his team's several flights, they came across Pernilla's name and contacted her. She confronted Simon because she couldn't believe what she was hearing about her close friend. He assured her that what she had been told was false and that it was his 'enemies' who were attempting to reach him, but she met with the journalism team, who showed her proof of what they had discovered.
Pernilla met Simon undercover, with camera crews following them around until he recognized one of the journalists and immediately left. He realized then that he could no longer rely on Pernilla.
Pernilla and Cecilie then collaborated with the VG news team to bring Simon's face to public view. They documented their experience of being duped by him in order to warn future victims, and they have appeared on guest/discussion panels all around the world. The two thought that the media would put pressure on the police to investigate Simon's misdeeds. Many additional victims from all over the world began to come out about their encounters with the conman.
Simon, on the other hand, was already one step ahead of his former lover and acquaintance. Meanwhile, he'd started a romantic relationship with Ayleen Charlotte, a Dutch fashion worker he'd met on Tinder.
She thought her 14-month partner was a low-key, globe-trotting diamond firm CEO until she came across a picture of Simon on social media with the title, 'The Tinder Swindler' a few weeks into their courtship.
She likened the early phases of her relationship with him to Cecilie and Pernilla's. He'd sent the same films to each of the three women, telling them how much he adored them. However, it was too late to flee because Ayleen had already loaned her partner $140,000. She questioned Simon about her online discovery, but he assured her that Pernilla and Cecilie were recruited by his "enemies" to bring him down with this phony news report.
Knowing he was lying, she called the police, who informed her that no case was being built against Simon at the time. Ayleen went ahead with their connection while secretly speaking with Pernilla and Cecilie about catching him because she was frightened of scaring him into departing.
She did, however, begin on her own secret mission to reclaim all of her money. Simon was out of money and unable to meet women on Tinder due to his prominent image, so he went to his 'lover' Ayleen.
Because she works in the fashion sector, she smartly recommended that she hand him his most costly clothes and accessories in order to earn some money so that she could flog them and give him the money. Simon badgered her into mailing her the money from the clothing. But her plan was to simply swindle the Tinder swindler.
He kept a low profile after the incident, moving from one hostel to the other while putting a lot of pressure on Ayleen to sell his clothes and send him the money.
Her final message to Simon was written at 2:40 pm, but she quickly realized that he hadn't been online for 10 minutes previously, the exact moment a flight from Prague to Athens was leaving. Ayleen then notified the authorities that he would be traveling on the flight under a different name. Interpol apprehended him there on the basis of a forged passport.
Simon Leviev received a 15-month prison sentence for the offenses he committed in Israel. However, only after five months, he was released. Since his release, he has started a website that provides business guidance for a set fee. Simon's bodyguard and 'business associates' have never been charged with any unlawful behavior.
He is unrelated to Israeli millionaire Lev Leviev or the Leviev family. There is also no evidence that any formal charges for diamond smuggling have been brought against LLD Diamonds for the Leviev family.
Simon Leviev is now a free man in Israel, and he appears to be financially secure. In fact, he is still living life with luxury cars and supermodel girlfriends. He was never charged with scamming Cecelie, Pernilla, and Ayleen, who are still repaying their loans. It is estimated that he has defrauded victims all around the world out of $10 million.
The mother of Simon's child from the plane denies any wrongdoing.
Simon has returned to Tinder since his release from prison. He was requested to participate in the documentary, but he declined because he planned to sue Netflix for defamation and lying.