Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler was an instant success. The documentary premiered on February 2, 2022 and soon became the streaming giant’s most-watched doc ever, according to Deadline. In its first week alone, it amassed 64.7M hours of streaming time, as viewers couldn’t get enough of the incredible (and appalling) story it told.
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If you have yet to tune in, the film aims to expose Israeli conman Simon Leviev and introduces audiences to a number of his alleged victims. They all claim they met Simon on dating app Tinder and that he defrauded them out of millions. It’s a lesson in fake friendships, the blindness that can accompany love at first sight, and the perils of dating in an online world.
But where is Leviev now?
The Tinder Swindler’s Real Name, Revealed
Simon Leviev made a real effort to present himself as the son of billionaire Russian-Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev, aka “The King of Diamonds.” In addition to posing as a member of the Leviev family, Simon reportedly told his victims he was the CEO of Lev’s company, LLD Diamonds, and went to great lengths to make his lies believable.
He allegedly dubbed himself “The Prince of Diamonds” and assumed that identity from 2017 to 2019. As various women claim, he was known to surround himself with a bodyguard, business partner, and secretary — all to bolster his stories. He even Photoshopped himself into Leviev family photos and changed his name legally, so that his passport and driver’s license would back up his tale.
Even so, Simon Leviev is adamant that he never pretended to be a member of the Leviev family. He told Channel 12 in 2019, “I have the right to choose whatever name I want, I never presented myself as the son of anyone, but people use their imaginations.”
Who was he before said change? Turns out Simon Leviev’s real name is Shimon Yehuda Hayut and he was born in Bnei Brak, Israel, a city just east of Tel Aviv.
The Prince of Diamonds: Everything You Need to Know
The Tinder Swindler exposed Simon Leviev’s Tinder-driven Ponzi scheme, but it was only the beginning of the unraveling of his web of lies. Long before the documentary premiered on Netflix, Leviev was charged with theft, forgery, and fraud in his native Israel in 2011.
According to reports, when Leviev was in his twenties, he stole check books from two families, then cashed those stolen checks. In one instance, he reportedly babysat for the family he would defraud, while in another he posed as a handyman.
Rather than sticking around for a trial, Leviev evaded authorities and fled Israel. He settled in Finland, but his legal luck would soon run out. In 2015, a Finnish court charged him with defrauding three women and he was sentenced to two years in jail. Once his time behind bars was done, Leviev was sent back to Israel in 2017, but authorities confirm he fled once again.
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This time, he roamed Europe and assumed his headline-making identity. Posing as just a single guy looking for love, Simon Leviev used Tinder to meet women in Norway, Finland and Sweden, and con them out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by allegedly posing as the heir to Lev Leviev’s diamond empire.
Simon’s alleged modus operandi was to meet women in-person and take them on lavish dates and getaways. He would then leave and begin sending them daily texts and personalized video messages.
Soon, he would convince his dates he was in danger and ask them to send money or credit cards so he could pay for things without revealing his location. According to Simon, it was imperative he couldn’t be traced or goons would hurt him. Of course, he promised he’d immediately pay the women back.
As his earnings grew, Leviev reportedly used the money he stole from one date to splurge on another and build trust with his next victim. His reported scheming was first exposed in 2019 by Norwegian magazine VG, which spoke with alleged victims Cecilie Fjellhøy and Pernilla Sjoholm for an expose titled The Tinder Swindler.
The two women recounted the great lengths Simon went to to earn their trust and make his stories believable. Cecilie, who was scammed out of over $200,000, shared how he sent her images of his bodyguard bleeding from the back of his head after an alleged attack, which convinced her to take out a bank loan and send him the cash.
Where Is Simon Leviev, aka Shimon Hayut, Now?
By 2019, Simon Leviev was a wanted man in Israel, Sweden, England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, per GQ. He continued to evade authorities, however, and it wasn’t until one of his alleged victims, Ayleen Charlotte, tipped off Greek police that he was arrested. Thanks to her insight, he was arrested in Athens for using a fake passport and was extradited to Israel.
Once in Israel, he took a plea deal and was convicted of theft, fraud, and forgery of documents, i.e. the 2011 charges he tried to run away from. Leviev was sentenced to 15 months in prison (and was slapped with about $48,000 in fines) in December 2019. In the end, he served just five months and was released early due to good behavior.
It’s important to note that Leviev has not been charged for any of the alleged crimes outlined in the Netflix documentary.
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However, his legal troubles are far from over. While his victims have been left in financial ruin, forced to rebuild their lives, and learn how to rebuild trust in relationships, they’ve taken matters into their own hands. A number of women have filed lawsuits against Leviev with the European Court of Justice and as one explained, “Private investigators and Interpol people are waiting for him to leave Israel to arrest him.”
What’s more, the real Lev Leviev and his family slapped Simon with a multi-million dollar defamation lawsuit filed in Tel Aviv in February 2022. The suit alleges defamation, invasion of privacy, breach of trademarks, and impersonation. They also plan to follow that up with “a monetary suit against Simon and any other affiliate that will work with him […] anyone that will try to capitalize from this scheme will be sued,” according to their attorney, Guy Ophir.
Simon Leviev isn’t fazed. His rep told E! News that he “legally changed his name in 2015 and looks forward to this getting thrown out in court.”
Is Simon Leviev Still on Social Media?
Despite all of the negative press, Simon Leviev is reportedly living his best life as a free man in Israel, according to Esquire. Yes, he’s been banned from Tinder and all dating sites and apps owned by Match Group Inc., as reported by NBC, and he’s been forced to delete his Instagram account, but he’s adamant he did nothing wrong. “I’m not a fraud and I’m not a fake,” he told Inside Edition while his new girlfriend, Israeli model Kate Konlin, appeared to imply the women in the doc were lying. “My god, it’s like how someone can build such a fake story,” she mused.
According to media reports, Leviev is believed to have stolen $10 million during his two years as the Tinder Swindler, but he told Channel 12 in 2019 that the women speaking out against him have a personal score to settle. “Maybe they didn’t like being in a relationship with me, or the way that I act. Maybe their hearts were broken during the process,” he said, adding, “I never took a dime from them; these women enjoyed themselves in my company, they traveled and got to see the world on my dime.”
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These days, he’s trying to cash in on his fame. Following a short-lived website where he offered business consultancy, Leviev started making money on Cameo (he’s selling personal video messages for $99, as well as business videos for $499) and is reportedly back on social media under the TikTok account @simon_leviev_official.
Last but not least, he’s signed with Los Angeles talent manager Gina Rodriguez, who wants him to write a book, host a dating podcast, and have his own dating show to find love. “I was intrigued with the Netflix story,” Rodriguez told Los Angeles magazine. “But it left me with a lot of unanswered questions and was very biased. I believe there are two sides to every story and everyone should have the chance to tell their side of the story.”
To be continued…
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