Netflix’s true-crime documentary, The Tinder Swindler, has taken the world by storm and it’s easy to see why. The story of conman Simon Leviev (real name, Shimon Hayut) scamming his “girlfriends” out of tens of thousands of dollars is the polar opposite of the fairy tales we’ve all grown up on and wished for.
Part of the reason this story is so compelling is that we can all see ourselves in these women. Although we’d all like to think we wouldn’t fall for Simon’s con, we’re all tempted by the story of Prince Charming coming to sweep us off our feet with his lavish lifestyle and choosing us as his princess. Another reason Simon’s antics have gone viral is the sheer absurdity of the story and how he’s managed to walk away as a free man. So here’s everything that Netflix didn’t tell you and what happened after the airing of The Tinder Swindler.
There’s a Controversial GoFundMe for the Victims
Simon’s victims who have spoken out, Cecilie Fjellhoy, Pernilla Sjoholm, and Ayleen Charlotte, have started a GoFundMe campaign in the hopes of getting back some of the money Simon stole from them. That being said, although their claims are legitimate, the fundraiser has been met with quite a few controversies…
So far, the women have raised nearly $170,000 out of their goal of just over $800,000. However, many people fear that the GoFundMe is a scam, possibly even created by Simon himself. Although there is a legitimate campaign for the victims, it’s proven difficult to tell which one is the true fundraiser and which ones are copycats, leaving sympathizers afraid to donate.
Do Simon’s Victims Really Need the Money?
Another reason viewers see the GoFundMe campaign as controversial is that Simon’s victims seem to be doing alright financially, even after being scammed. While Ayleen is rarely active on social media, Cecilie and Pernilla’s Instagrams are filled with photos from a vacation the two recently took to Greece, which is making many sympathizers question the legitimacy of the women’s claims.
While we agree that posting vacation photos while asking for donations is not a good look, the women never claimed to be destitute due to Simon’s scams. The money that they lost was meant to go towards things like a house or a car, both of which are far more expensive than a couple of days abroad. Perhaps the social media photos are more distasteful, rather than proof of deceit?
Simon Has Been Scamming People for Over a Decade
Although the rest of the world is just now learning about Simon’s scams, he’s had a reputation in his home country of Israel for several years. Many Facebook groups for people living in Israel have posts that caution one another about Simon’s scams, these warnings go back several years. In fact, his first known scam took place in 2010, when he stole a checkbook from two families he was working for and attempted to forge checks in their names.
Simon was arrested for his actions but was released on bail. Afterward, he fled Israel under a new name: Mordechai Nissim Tapiro. After successfully getting away with his first crime, Simon began a series of thefts and forgeries and began to target women. He was charged with defrauding three women in Finland, in 2015, but after only two years in prison, Simon managed to escape the authorities once again.
Lev Leviev Also Considers Himself to Be a Victim
Lev Leviev, CEO of LLD Diamonds, rightfully considers himself to be another victim of Simon’s scams. Simon pretended to be Lev’s son, and used LLD Diamonds’s name in many of his scams, putting a massive stain on the company’s reputation. Lev has filed a complaint with the Israeli police and hopes to set the record straight.
LLD Diamonds has released a statement saying, “LLD Diamonds has been a well-regarded leader in the diamond industry for three decades. Our company has no connection whatsoever to Shimon Hayut. He is a fraud who has tried to exploit our good name to con victims out of millions of dollars. Our sympathies go out to his victims. His fraud has also caused ongoing confusion about our company. Nothing he has said, about LLD or anything else, should be believed.”
The Many Careers of Simon: Real Estate Agent? Pilot?
When he wasn’t pretending to be the heir of a diamond fortune, Simon would pretend to be a real estate agent. He gave an interview about how to become a successful real estate agent, despite the fact that he doesn’t actually work in the field. He also claimed to be a 29-year-old millionaire, when he’s actually a 31-year-old scam artist without any legitimate source of income.
Simon has also posed as a pilot, which he most certainly is not. He did take some flying lessons but failed to complete the entire course. It’s possible that he joined the flight course in the attempt of running another scam, as one of his classmates claims that Simon urged him to invest in a clothing business that never came to fruition.
Simon Maintains His Innocence
Simon has made it clear that he’s uninterested in taking responsibility for his actions by victim-blaming instead. He insists that he never lied about his identity and women simply “jumped to conclusions” when they heard his name. Perhaps he didn’t see the part of the Netflix documentary which clearly shows that he photoshopped himself into a picture with Lev Leviev?
Simon claims that he has the right to legally change his name to whatever he wants, which is true. However, he also insists that he never outwardly said he was Lev Leviev’s son, which is a blatant lie. Furthermore, he’s attempted to get a hashtag circulating to gain support, luckily, the hashtag #SimonTruth hasn’t gained any traction.
Simon’s Side of the Story
Simon has regularly teased that he will tell his side of the story, however, that claim has also turned out to be false. Despite his various countdowns on social media to when he’ll publish evidence that he’s innocent, Simon has yet to do so or give any information that may support he’s been set up. He has also stated that Netflix will create another film telling his side of the story, a claim which the streaming service seems unaware of.
Simon recently posted on his social media, thanking his followers for their support. He said, “It’s high time the ladies start saying the truth. If you can’t give them the world they want they’ll turn yours to hell. I will be addressing the whole world on Friday. Stay tuned and tag others.” At the time of writing, a week has passed since Simon teased a Friday tell-all, which he is yet to deliver.
Ayleen Continues to Taunt Simon
Those who watched The Tinder Swindler know that Ayleen conned the con artist by selling his designer clothes and pocketing the money. As it turns out, she’s decided to keep a souvenir for herself, and she’s been taunting Simon about it on her Instagram. Ayleen posted this photo of her wearing Simon’s favorite sunglasses, with a mocking caption…
“Yes, these are his glasses.” Women around the world have hailed Ayleen as a “queen” and a “bada**” for her revenge against Simon. While many consider her to be the hero of the documentary, unfortunately for Cecilie and Pernilla, Simon’s other victims have not received the same praise…
Pernilla Is Unable to Live on Her Own
Pernilla has declared bankruptcy after being scammed by Simon and now lives with her mother, despite having been on track to purchase her own home before having met The Tinder Swindler. While many praise her as the hero she is for sharing her story, there are those who victim-shame Pernilla for helping the man who she thought was her friend.
Pernilla posted on her Instagram, saying, “I still can’t get it in… That all this happened to me, and that all of you now can see it. It’s very personal and hard for me to watch some parts of it…” Interestingly, many women said that something similar has happened to them, while they thanked Pernilla for having the courage to speak about this issue. Unfortunately, some people called her “stupid” and implied that Pernilla must not have been raised properly, because she was so “gullible.”
Cecilie Wants to Start a Conversation
Cecilie was, arguably, the main victim in the documentary. She perfectly represents the desire women have to find Prince Charming and the lengths a person may go to in order to support a loved one. Despite having her intelligence called into question by victim-blamers, Cecilie maintains that it’s important to share her story.
Cecilie has expressed that she hopes to normalize victims speaking out, rather than feeling ashamed for being conned, so as to minimize the probability of other people falling for the scam. Her message to other victims is to seek “peer support” and “Please don’t feel ashamed. Be open and honest, and please, please report.”
Simon Has Started a New Business Venture
Since being released from prison, Simon has started a new business venture in which he teaches people how to become multi-millionaires through a workshop. It is unclear if the website is still active or if copycat sites have been produced in order to mock Simon, however, he has been giving seminars in Israel.
Simon’s “success workshops” in Tel Aviv cost $311 per attendee and he claims it was a full house (do we believe him?) According to his then-girlfriend, who was in attendance, Simon’s students were so enthralled in the workshop that no one even got up to use the restroom during the four-hour seminar. Simon’s lecture included business advice, daily habits that will lead to success, and Simon’s life story. We wonder if he mentioned his scams during the course?
He Also Has a New Woman by His Side
Simon’s newest girlfriend/victim is Israeli model, Kate Konlin. Although the two are no longer romantically involved, they’re still good friends, and they claim that their busy work schedules resulted in their breakup – not Simon’s history. Kate insists that Simon was honest with her from the first date about his past and he showed her documents to prove his innocence. Is anyone else reminded of the “documents” he showed Cecilie and Pernilla, proving that he transferred money to their bank accounts?
While many question how Kate could possibly trust Simon after watching The Tinder Swindler, we have another theory about her motives: Kate’s fame has skyrocketed since being associated with Simon, and her reach as a model has now extended beyond Israel. So did Kate use Simon like he’s used so many women in the past? Or is she really that naive?
He Conned His Way Into Getting Vaccinated
Simon’s scams aren’t limited to financial gains, he also conned his way into getting vaccinated against COVID-19, without even needing to wait in line. While vaccines were only being offered to Israelis over the age of 60, medical workers, and at-risk groups, Simon managed to get one by pretending to be a medic.
The vaccination center stated, “It is regrettable that there are people who are harming the trust shown by staff and we condemn this act.” To which Simon denied that he claimed to be a medic, “I am a businessman, I have money. I can buy anyone or anything that I want… I had an appointment, perhaps there was a bug in the computer. This is a third-world country, after all.” He went on to address the issue of having cut the line, by saying, “I am not someone who waits in lines or at places.”
His Father May Have Been Involved in His Scams
While Simon’s father is certainly not the CEO of LLD Diamonds, he is extremely influential in Israel. Yohanan Hayut is the chief rabbi of Israel’s El-Al airlines. Yohanan may also be a conman, as he’s been accused of using his son’s fake identity as part of the Leviev family to scam Israelis out of their money, too. While the case is still under investigation, there are several business people who claim that Yohanan swindled them out of millions of shekel.
Another point of interest for the Israeli police is whether or not Yohanan helped Simon escape the country back in 2017. It is questioned if he used his connections to help his son avoid prosecution. Once again, this case is still under investigation, so only time will tell if the apple has fallen far from the tree.
The Truth About Simon’s Time in Prison
The tragic ending of The Tinder Swindler is that Simon is now a free man, after serving only five months in prison, despite receiving a 15-month sentence. Simon was also instructed to pay money to his victims, as well as fines to the court. However, it’s unclear whether or not that has been enforced. While many reports claim that Simon was released early for good behavior, that’s not the entire story…
The real reason for Simon’s release was due to COVID-19, as there was a fear of a potential coronavirus outbreak amongst inmates, Israel attempted to reduce the prison population as much as possible without endangering society. Simon’s victims have referred to his early release as “shocking,” a “disgrace,” and “a stab in the back.”
Israel Is Being Called Into Question
Israel, and its citizens, have been largely criticized due to The Tinder Swindler‘s release. While some of the criticism is fair, others are simply thinly-veiled antisemitism. Those who claim that Simon is a model example of a Jew or Israeli are clearly looking for excuses to hate. There’s absolutely no basis to judge an entire society off of only one of its citizens.
However, the criticism of Israel’s justice system is an important conversation to have. It’s well-known that Israel doesn’t like to extradite its citizens to face charges in other countries, which is common practice for many nations. However, many question if it’s reached a point in which criminals escape to Israel as a way of avoiding jail time. One only needs to know of Simon’s story along with that of Malka Leifer, an Australian pedophile who also ran away to Israel, before they begin to question whether or not it’s time for the country to change some of its policies.
How Simon Managed to Scam These Women
The Tinder Swindler calls into question how Simon managed to scam these perfectly intelligent, and sophisticated, women into giving him all their money. The answer lies in the way society conditions people, particularly women, to show loyalty to their partners and stick by them even in the hardest of times.
Many victims, of all sorts of abuse, feel shame in leaving their partners and being judged for “giving up on them.” Long-standing gender roles dictate women must nurture and provide emotional support for their men, and if a man were to act a bit aggressive or bossy, that’s simply “in his nature.” Perhaps it’s time that we change this narrative?
Simon Has a Lot of Supporters
Perhaps the most chilling part about watching The Tinder Swindler is seeing Simon’s social media after the documentary’s release. The con artist has a lot of supporters who admire his ability to go from a modest upbringing in the ultra religious city of Bnei Brak, to living a lavish lifestyle and traveling the world.
Comments of support on Simon’s social media include, “I believe in you.”, “You need to write a book, we need to know how you started.”, “You’re a king”, “I believe you’re innocent”, and “Wish I could have the guts this guy possesses.” The only good thing about Simon receiving this support is that the creeps of the internet are showing their faces, and names, in the comments so we know who to stay away from.
Of Course, He Has a Lot of Haters Too
While Simon’s supporters are nausea-inducing, his haters far outweigh the admirers. Many are gleefully stating that Simon will never be able to pull off another scam again, while others worry that this newfound fame will earn him even more money, as the saying goes “Any press is good press.”
Simon’s haters have commented asking him for financial assistance to protect them from their “enemies,” they’ve also questioned how someone of his physical appearance could attract these women, and they mockingly refer to him as the “homeless king.” One particularly well-articulated comment reads, “Please don’t reproduce we don’t need your genetics out in this world.”
Is He Still on Tinder?
While Simon may still be trying to swindle people, he certainly isn’t using Tinder to do it, as he’s been banned from the app. Not only that, but they’ve also banned him from any other dating apps owned by the same company. Users of these apps can rest assured that Simon is not on Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge, PlentyOfFish, or Match.com
A representative of Tinder has stated, “In the lead-up to the release of the documentary, we conducted additional internal investigations and can confirm Simon Leviev is not active on Tinder under any of his known aliases.” We applaud the company for its swift, and appropriate, response.
Have Peter or Avishay Faced Any Consequences?
Peter, Simon’s “bodyguard”, (sometimes known as Piotr) is a free man despite his involvement in Simon’s scams. The two of them are still friends and are often seen together around Israel. Peter tries to keep a low profile and he does not have social media, so it’s unclear what he’s been up to since the documentary’s release. We do know that Peter is suing Netflix for associating him with Simon’s con and he hopes to bring into question his awareness of what was being done.
Avishay (sometimes known as Avi) Simon’s business partner, has also escaped consequences and is continuing to live his life. It turns out that he was not only Simon’s accomplice but he also runs his own scam, the same as Simon’s, in which the two of them switch roles. One woman claims that she dated Avishay and the beginning of the relationship was identical to that of Simon’s victims in the documentary. Luckily, she broke up with him before giving him any money. Interestingly, Avishay and Simon have been friends since they were children.
Simon’s Celebrity Friendships
Simon’s latest step in creating a new image for himself has been to brush shoulders with various celebrities to imply that he’s friendly with them. He recently posted a photo of himself with rapper French Montana, which many people assumed was photoshopped. However, French Montana confirmed the photo’s authenticity and clarified that it had been taken years ago and the two were in no way close.
Simon also posted a photo with Israeli Big Brother contestant, Avivit Bar-Zohar, claiming that they were friends. However, Avivit says that she doesn’t know him and he had asked for a photo when delivering a car to her company. These celebrity-filled pictures are likely the work of the PR firm which Simon has hired to alter his reputation.
The Silver Lining in the Story
While the story of The Tinder Swindler is undoubtedly horrific, one good thing has come out of it: Two of Simon’s victims, Cecilie and Pernilla, have become best friends throughout the ordeal. The two are often seen hanging out together and gushing about each other on social media.
One of Pernilla’s Instagram photos with Cecilie is captioned, “I still can’t believe I met my best friend like this. Love you forever!!” While one of Cecilie’s pictures reads, “What a journey and what a friendship.” These two are the perfect example of strong women lifting each other up!
The Tinder Swindler’s New Life
While many expected, and hoped, for Simon’s life to fall to pieces after the release of The Tinder Swindler, that simply hasn’t been the case. Simon continues to live a lavish lifestyle, although it’s unclear where his funds are coming from. He also routinely posts photos on social media with captions that taunt his victims.
One of Simon’s posts shows him in front of a Ferrari with the caption, “You paid for it, so have a magnificent day.” Another image, of him on a yacht, says, “Love comes at a price.” He still maintains that he never asked anyone for money and that he paid for everything on his own. It’s safe to say that justice has not been served and lessons have not been learned… At least not yet.