Netflix’s latest twisted true-crime documentary with the tagline “Modern love is a dangerous game” is a blood-curdling tale of an internet con artist.
A few days ago, I saw a video on youtube about a guy who was catfishing women he met on tinder and had swindled around 10million dollars from them. Yesterday Netflix began streaming a two-hour documentary, “The Tinder Swindler”, on the same guy. This appalling documentary directed by Felicity Morris, who also produced Netflix docuseries “Don’t Fuck With Cats”, elucidates how an Israeli serial offender hoaxes various women he meets on tinder.
So, Who exactly is Simon Leviev?
Simon Leviev Aka Shimon Hayut is a 31-year-old Israeli man who pretended to be the son of a Russian Israeli billionaire diamond tycoon Lev Leviev and called himself “The prince of diamonds”. He lured several women around the globe by showing off his lavish lifestyle and then conned them to fund his extravagant expense. Three of the women he conned came up together to tell their story through this documentary.
But, How did he target his victims?
Simon would initially spend a lavish amount on these women, making them believe they are in some romantic fairyland and he is their prince charming. He would take them to luxury five-star hotels and exotic trips on private jets. After several weeks of spending money on romantic gestures, he would come up with a cooked story saying his life was under threat due to the enemies in his business.
He would then send a photo of his bodyguard Peter ( a fake bodyguard), covered in blood, saying they were attacked. Then request them to give their credit card temporarily, as he can’t use his card due to security reasons, promising to pay them back double. These women, who had already seen his lavish lifestyle, undoubtedly fell for the bait. They gave him their lifetime savings took thousands of dollars of loan which, they are still repaying and will probably be for a couple of years. Eventually, he developed a Ponzi scheme in which he would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on each consecutive girlfriend, using the money he had swindled from the previous women.
Catfishing is a multibillion-dollar industry. These scamsters don’t just pop out of nowhere and ask, “Hey could I borrow like 10k dollars”? They would have spent months, at times even years to build the confidence, beginning with the tiny sums, paying you back (probably with the money of other victims), and doing so until you have become used to it.
Ok, Where is Simon Leviev now?
After he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for the crimes he committed, like theft, forgery and fraud related to cashing stolen cheques, he is currently living as a free man in Israel. But he was released after serving only five months because he had met the conditions for release under the programme to reduce the prison population amid the fears of a Covid outbreak among the prisoners.
Following his release, he launched a business mentoring website and still lives an extravagant lifestyle that he boasts online. To date, neither Simon, his business partner, nor his bodyguard Peter, has been charged with defrauding the women shown in the film, while these women are still paying off their debts.
People like Simon are good at what they are doing. Sure, they might get caught-even multiple times, but they will continue as before. It is unacceptable that people like this go free. By the looks of it, he hasn’t learnt a thing and is not capable of remorse. What I did take away from this documentary is admiration for these incredibly strong women that have been to absolute hell and back and are still fighting. I hope he gets his deserved fate and the victims are cleared of the debt.