Beware the Tinder scammer, an actual dating app villain
For at least a decade now the israeli crook Shimon Hayout defrauded people. His most audacious ruse of recent years: impersonating Simon Leviev, the son of a diamond billionaire, to woo beautiful women he finds on Tinder with private jet rides, stays in luxury hotels and proclamations of love. According to reports, once women believe they are dating a real Prince Charming, he fakes a fit to extort thousands of dollars from them. But the moment one woman realizes she’s been scammed, he moves on to the next one, wooing her with the funds he supposedly stole from his latest victim.
With Netflix The Tinder scammer streaming into homes around the world on Wednesday, however, Hayut may have a harder time attracting women to dating apps. The documentary, from Felicity Morris (Don’t fuck with cats), features several of Hayut’s alleged victims recounting their experiences with the scammer – from their dizzying early days of text messaging to the sickening realization that they had liquidated their life savings for a serial fraudster. Rather than wait for the authorities, however, several women are taking matters into their own hands to settle accounts with Hayut, whose thrilling journey unfolds in The Tinder scammer.
Like Showtime love fraud before that – which also centered on the relentless pursuit of a dating app scammer –The Tinder scammer reveals that these lotharios are difficult to lock up for long periods of time.
“He’s done all these scams across Europe, across the world, and in terms of jurisdiction, it’s incredibly difficult [to wrangle]. These are very small offenses [for authorities]says Morris. According to The Times of Israel, Hayut was “charged in Israel with theft, forgery and fraud in 2011 for cashing stolen checks, but fled before being convicted. He was convicted in Finland for defrauding women and was returned to Israel in 2017, but fled the country again. In 2019, according to the same outlet, Hayut “was imprisoned in Israel after pleading guilty to fraud charges” but was released “after serving five months of a 15-month sentence, apparently as part of a program to reduce the prison population amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak among inmates.
After being released from prison, he returned to his Instagram page, posting photos of himself to his more than 97,000 followers alongside the holy trinity of status vehicles: private jets, helicopters and yachts. At some point last year, Hayut apparently even found himself a new model girlfriend.
Says Morris, “I think it’s incredibly difficult for women. Here’s a guy who really did them wrong, and yet it’s apparent from his Instagram now that he’s essentially living the same life as before. That’s why, with the movie, we just wanted to give the impression that a little justice is being served by exposing it and saying, look, that’s what it does. He can’t hide from that.
While making the film, Morris said she was amazed to draw a timeline of Hayut’s communications with various women and to realize how many fake romances he was pursuing at once.
“He was texting [one woman] say he’s in Berlin, when he’s actually there to see another woman,” says Morris. “These things really made us see how committed Simon is to this and how many plates he was spinning at once. And Simon remembers everything: their birthdays, what they do at work, their parents…. In the film, a woman gives him a book about meeting Norwegians. And a few months later, when she arrived at her flat in Amsterdam, it was on her bedside table.
The documentary itself is less than two hours long, but Morris has enough excess interviews with victims and crime experts to create a companion podcast episode the week after The Tinder scammeris the first. In it, the filmmaker will also retrace Hayut’s coming-of-age years.
“He’s been doing petty scams like check fraud since he was a teenager,” says Morris. “He actually grew up in a very conservative area of Tel Aviv. His father was a rabbi…. I think there was always something in him that wanted to rise up in a world of luxury.
The Tinder scammer, says Morris, is “a story of love and heartbreak, and kind of finding all those little pieces of the Simon puzzle. We spoke to a psychologist as part of the podcast, and hearing him talk about his experience with scammers and learning more about their mindset was endlessly fascinating to discuss…. I don’t know how you got so good at lying and faking love.
Hayut might even like the documentary, says Morris. “You don’t know how someone like Simon could be able to twist that to work in his favor. He could enjoy infamy. There are, however, details that could irritate him: “I think he will find it difficult to watch [Ayleen Charlotte’s] disassembly of him. We won’t spoil the details of her revenge, but do note that it ends with Hayut leaving her a flurry of desperate voicemails, included in the documentary.