• Thu. Aug 4th, 2022

‘Tinder Swindler’ con artist, Simon Leviev, banned from dating app

Tinder has also released new policies to protect users from romance scams.

Users on dating apps can no longer swipe right on Shimon Hayut, also known as “Simon Leviev,” the man who, according to the documentary, pretended to be the billionaire son of a Russian-Israeli diamond tycoon and wooed multiple women by lavishing them with gifts, flying them around the world on private jets, professing his love — then demanding money and claiming his life was in grave danger from his “enemies.”

Hayut, who went by the moniker “Prince of Diamonds,” persuaded the women to use American Express credit cards and harassed them into increasing their spending limits and lending him money, which he never repaid.

Tinder announced in a statement that “we have done internal checks and can confirm Simon Leviev is no longer active on Tinder under any of his known aliases.” The news was first reported by Variety. Pernilla Sjöholm, who appears in a Netflix video on the “Tinder Swindler,” tells how he defrauded her after they met on the dating app. (AP)

Three women from various European countries — Cecilie Fjellhoy, Pernilla Sjöholm, and Ayleen Charlotte – reminisced about their interactions with Hayut in 2018 and 2019. Tinder could not be reached for comment right away.

Tinder posted updated instructions for users the day before the documentary was broadcast, titled “Romance Scams: How to Protect Yourself Online.” While Tinder’s new guidance to recognizing a fraudster online did not specifically mention Netflix’s film, the dating app did say that scammers often prey on “weak” people “searching for love” on such platforms.

Hayut’s real-life criminal past and long history of scamming people — primarily women looking for love — were the focus of the new documentary, which quickly rose to the top of the most-watched lists in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Hayut was wanted in Israel in 2011 on charges of theft, forgery, and fraud, including scamming a family while serving as their babysitter, according to the Times of Israel. Before he could be punished, he escaped Israel. Hayut allegedly defrauded a family in New York for $42,000 in 2008, according to Erlend Ofte Arntsen, a journalist who has covered Hayut and is included in the documentary.

Hayut made his home in Finland. He was accused with scamming three ladies in 2015 and sentenced to two years in jail. He was repatriated to Israel in 2017 to face authorities for pending accusations, but he fled again. After this point, the Netflix documentary largely focuses on his interactions with women.

Hayut was arrested in Greece in July of this year (thanks to, as the documentary shows, a little help from Ayleen Charlotte, Interpol and Israeli police). He was returned to Israel after being extradited.

For fraud, he was sentenced to 15 months in jail and had to pay more than $43,000 in restitution. According to the Times of Israel, Hayut only served for five months.

Hayut is said to be free — though his whereabouts are unknown — but his romance scam victims continue to pay off the debts they incurred at his behest, according to the documentary.

Hayut turned to his personal Instagram account after the documentary’s publication, telling his 200,000 followers that he was getting ready to give his side of events, according to Variety. However, the account has now been removed, with photos of the fraudster wearing expensive outfits, carrying champagne bottles, and sitting on private jets.

Tinder’s new guidelines advise users to be cautious while getting to know an online match, citing data from the Federal Trade Commission that shows thieves made an estimated $304 million through romantic scams in the United States alone in 2020.

Users should “follow their intuition,” watch out for “over-the-top demonstrations of interest,” and avoid revealing personal information such as their passport information or social security number, according to the company’s detailed advise.

In the three-page warning, the business stated, “Above all else, do not send money online.”

Many onlookers were shocked by the women’s stories on social media, with some complimenting them for being so candid about their experiences and raising awareness about Hayut’s conduct.

One tweet said, “Cecilie [Fjellhoy] put her pride and privacy aside to interrupt a long-time fraudster.” The women were dubbed “amazing” and “brave” by others. Many people complimented Ayleen Charlotte for her dedication to taking down Hayut, who is seen pledging to “swindle the Tinder swindler.” Some referred to her as a “baddie” and a “baller.”

“I’ll always be an Ayleen stan,” one fan wrote on Twitter.

During their 14-month relationship, Charlotte claims she loaned Hayut $140,000. Fjellhoy was declared bankrupt in the United Kingdom, where she currently resides, and she informed Britain’s ITV that she owes more than $270,000. “Paying it down is impossible,” she remarked in an interview last week.

While some sympathized with people who had been duped, others claimed they would have seen the warning signals or moved more quickly.

One tweet stated, “The first red indicator is a single millionaire on tinder.” Another said, “Common sense is not common.”

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