Sun. May 22nd, 2022
The latest on Tinder Swindler Simon Leviev and his victims
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Cecilie Fjellhøy as featured in Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler.


Netflix

Just ahead of Valentine’s Day, Netflix‘s true crime documentary The Tinder Swindler is here to showcase one of the ultimate examples of online dating gone wrong. 

The Tinder Swindler, now streaming on Netflix, tells the story of a man named Simon Leviev (born Shimon Hayut) who used the online dating platform to meet women, lure them with an extravagant lifestyle of real private jets and fancy hotels (and a made-up fake identity as the son of the CEO of a diamond company) and eventually con them into giving him money via credit cards and loans. 

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Online romance scams are more common than you might think. In September, the FBI reported that its Internet Crime Complaint Center had received more than 1,800 reports relating to online romance scams in 2021 alone. Those complaints accounted for about $133.4 million in losses for people deceived by scammers.

After realizing Hayut was a grifter and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, the three women featured in the documentary — Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm and Ayleen Charlotte — worked with law enforcement and journalists from a major Norwegian newspaper called VG to try to put an end to Hayut’s scams. 

Here’s an update on Fjellhøy, Sjoholm, Charlotte and Hayut. 

Shimon Hayut/Simon Leviev

The documentary reports that after being arrested by Interpol in July 2019, Hayut was sentenced to 15 months in jail for crimes committed in Israel. He only served five months, however, and was released because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After his release, the documentary said, Hayut started a website offering business advice, and from his social media accounts, didn’t seem to be hurting for money. He’d even been seen back on Tinder. That’s no longer the case, though. The dating app said it banned Hayut from its platform. What’s more, Tinder’s parent company, Match Group, confirmed that Leviev is banned from all other dating apps owned by the company.

“We have conducted internal investigations and can confirm Simon Leviev is no longer active on Tinder under any of his known aliases,” Tinder said in a statement. The Independent reported Monday that Hayut deleted his Instagram account. The documentary estimates Hayut has managed to swindle about $10 million from people around the world.

Hayut wasn’t reachable for comment. 

Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm and Ayleen Charlotte

The documentary showed the lengths Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm and Ayleen Charlotte went to in working with journalists and law enforcement to catch Hayut and ideally prevent him from taking advantage of other women. At the end of The Tinder Swindler, the latest update on the trio was that they were still trying to pay off their debts. In an interview with British GQ, Sjoholm said she was bankrupt and living with her mother. Over the weekend all three created a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising £600,000 ($811,206). As of Tuesday, they’ve raised more than £38,000 ($51,000).

“The past few days have been a whirlwind, and we three (Ayleen, Pernilla and Cecilie) have been completely shocked and floored by the flood of compassion and support from everyone,” they wrote in the fundraiser description. “All we want are our lives back.”

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