Tinder has long been a go-to dating app for those looking for love, but it became the starting point of a complete nightmare when several European women encountered a fraudster who they thought was their prince charming. Now known worldwide as Simon Leviev, the Tinder Swindler, Israeli national Shimon Hayut was the subject of the recent Netflix documentary with the same name.
But who is the real Shimon Hayut and what other crimes has he committed aside from defrauding unsuspecting women out of hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Hayut changed his name to Simon Leviev to falsely pose as the son of Russian-Israeli billionaire and diamond mogul, Lev Leviev. Through a lavish lifestyle depicted on social media, he would scam European women he met on Tinder and lure them with destination dates via private jets, expensive meals and five-star hotels.
After building his persona and his relationships with his dates, he would then feign danger from “enemies” who he said sought to hurt him, and use that situation to scam his girlfriends into lending him thousands of dollars and letting him use their credit cards.
Through this Ponzi scheme between 2017 and 2019, where he would use money from one woman to fund lavish dates with another, Hayut’s fraudulent activities were said to have amounted to an estimated US$10 million, according to The Times of Israel. And the documentary was just the tip of the iceberg of Hayut’s many other criminal acts.
1/ A thread on the Simon Leviev timeline. Details, details. 27th September 1990: Born as Shimon Yehuda Hayut into an ultra orthodox Jewish family and grows up in Bnei Brak, outside Tel Aviv. #tinderswindler #TheTindlerSwindler #simonleviev pic.twitter.com/8FOVXhradT
— Erlend Ofte Arntsen (@ErlendOfte) February 7, 2022
Now 31 years old, Hayut’s origins can be traced back to the city of Bnei Brak outside Tel Aviv, Israel. According to The Times of Israel, his father is Rabbi Yohanan Hayut, the chief rabbi of El Al Airlines. His father had also been accused of aiding him in defrauding plaintiff Rabbi Pinhas Badush out of hundreds of thousands of shekels amounting to US$400,000.
In 2011, Hayut was charged in his home country for crimes of theft, forgery, fraud and cashing stolen checks. A year before, he allegedly stole chequebooks from a family he was babysitting for, attempting to forge three checks, and from another household while working as a handyman. He was found out, arrested and released on bail for US$3,000 (10,000 shekels). Later that year, he fled Israel under a fake identity: Mordechai Nissim Tapiro.
The Times of Israel also reported that while living in Finland in 2015, Leviev was charged with defrauding three women and sent to prison from 2015 to 2017. Authorities were to turn him over and return him to Israel before he evaded these charges and fled the country under a new identity. This was also around the time his Tinder scheme took place.
Hayut was finally arrested in 2017 by Interpol and the Israel Police in Greece, reported The Times of Israel, for using a fake passport. He was then sentenced by the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to 15 months in prison, made to compensate his victims for 150,000 shekels (around US$43,300) and ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 shekels (US$5,800). But by the end of the Netflix documentary, we find out that Hayut was released just five months into his sentence for good behaviour.
11/ January 31st 2019: VG reaches out to Pernilla. Two days later we find Simon Leviev in Munich.
February 16th 2019: The original piece about The Tinder Swindler is published. https://t.co/4H9qKysrkN
— Erlend Ofte Arntsen (@ErlendOfte) February 7, 2022
Now comes the bigger question. What has Hayut been up to since his release? For starters, he’s been banned from Tinder. A spokesperson told E! News that the company “banned Simon Leviev and any of his known aliases as soon as the story of his actions became public”.
Up until recently, he had been flaunting a lavish jet set lifestyle on Instagram as usual, but took his account down after the release of the documentary. According to Esquire, before shutting down his account, he posted: “Thank you for all your support. I will share my side of the story in the next few days when I have sorted out the best and most respectful way to tell it, both to the involved parties and myself. Until then, please keep an open mind and heart.”
Some internet sleuths are convinced they have found his Tiktok account, according to Cosmopolitan, which posts clips of Hayut on private jets, yachts and sports cars, but this is yet to be confirmed. Either way, he still seems to be living a luxurious life.
Hayut also set up his own website offering business consultancy sessions, but he has since moved on from that hustle, taking the website down and going onto the world of real estate. His website stated that his net worth was in the tens of millions, which he allegedly made through investing in bitcoin and real estate.
As for his romantic life, he was last linked to model Kate Konlin, but she confirmed in an email interview with RadarOnline that the two are no longer together due to their busy schedules, although they remain friends.
Meanwhile, Ayleen Charlotte, Pernilla Sjöholm and Cecilie Fjellhøy, the three women who fell for Hayut’s scams, are still paying off their debts and have since set up a GoFundMe account, which has collected about US$96,000 at the time of writing.
Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.