The Netflix documentary tells the true story of the dangerous Tinder scammer
A man pretended to be a billionaire to appeal to women and keep their money. It has already arrived on the platform in Portugal.
The scammer found the victims on Tinder.
Cecilie Fjellhøy was using Tinder when she swiped right on a man named Simon Leviev. She was a 29-year-old Norwegian studying in London, UK. He appeared to be a charming and kind man who lived a life of luxury.
In January 2018, they met for coffee at the Four Seasons Hotel in London. When she met him, she wasn’t disappointed at all. He looked exactly like the photos and showed through his clothes and accessories that he was elegant and wealthy. Fjellhøy was delighted.
So much so that when Leviev explained that he had to travel to Bulgaria by private jet that afternoon – and invited her to come along – the student immediately agreed. Supposedly, Simon had a business meeting. He claimed to be a “diamond prince” of Israel, the heir to the billionaire fortune of diamond magnate Lev Leviev.
After Cecilie Fjellhøy sent her friends a “yolo” (i.e. “You only live once”), she boarded the plane. Inside were Simon Leviev’s private security team, as well as a wife and a baby, which Simon claimed were his ex-wife and child.
The two got along well. Fjellhøy and Leviev spent the night together at the hotel and started a relationship of sorts from there. After three incredible (and surreal) months together, Simon Leviev told Cecilie Fjellhøy to start looking for apartments in London to rent together.
However, they never took that step. A short time later he received blood-covered photos of Leviev and his bodyguard – as well as a request for the equivalent of around 22,000 euros. Leviev claimed his enemies were spying on his bank accounts and he was unable to withdraw his money. So I had to borrow it from my girlfriend.
Believing blindly, Fjellhøy took all the money he had, asked for credit and handed over the money. He had no reason to doubt that Simon Leviev would not pay him the whole next day. But that return never came. Obviously it was all a scam and a big lie.
The bodyguard was a hired helper, the private jet was paid for with money from another woman he was cheating on, his “ex-wife” was another victim of his schemes. His name wasn’t Simon Leviev either, of course. It was Shimon Yehuda Hayut, who came from a middle-class family with no connection to the diamond business. And with the line of credit opened in Fjellhøy’s name, Leviev continued to use that money, leaving the Norwegian deeply in debt.
His story is told in The Tinder Imposter, a documentary premiering on Netflix this Wednesday, February 2nd. It’s a project by the same producers of The Imposter and Don’t F**k with Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer.
Through photos and videos taken by Cecilie Fjellhøy and other victims during their time with Simon Leviev, as well as interviews with the women themselves, the story is told from the women’s perspective.
Pernilla Sjoholm from Sweden and Ayleen Charlotte from the Netherlands were other victims of Leviev. Their stories are also told in this documentary production. “It was almost like stepping into a ‘Truman Show’ made for them, where he has a bodyguard and he’s actually flying in a private jet,” director Felicity Morris told The Guardian.
Sjoholm also met Simon Leviev through Tinder in March 2018. They started out romantically, but the relationship eventually grew into a deep friendship. The Swede took Leviev on trips to Greece or Italy while Fjellhøy looked for apartments in London.
When the Norwegian realized what had happened to her, the betrayal was as emotional as it was financial. This is because Simon Leviev behaved like a devoted and loving friend: he sent flowers and affectionate messages, in addition to a surprise visit to Oslo just to see her once. He didn’t offer luxurious material goods, but he was a perfect friend.
“We all grew up on romantic comedies and the idea of finding the love of your life, a charming prince who will win you over,” adds Felicity Morris. “I definitely think Simon played with it.”
Eventually, a journalistic investigation by Norwegian publication VG uncovered his true identity and told the story – and Shimon Yehuda Hayut was arrested for fraud and theft. He spent time in prison in Finland and Israel. When he left, he legally changed his name to Simon Leviev and declined to be interviewed for this documentary.
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