People tuning in to the Netflix true-crime documentary The Tinder Swindler will probably think how someone will be so easily duped. Easy. In the animal kingdom, predators don’t go after the toughest one of the pack. You don’t pick fights you know you’re going to lose.
Simon Leviev, the center of the documentary and the swindler in the title, met his prey online. And he wined and dined them. He told them he was the son of Russian-Isreali diamond mogul Lev Leviev. While some men on Tinder might just take a woman out to an Applebee’s or Ruby Tuesday’s and movie or concert, Leviev took them on world trips. They were on yachts. They were in beach villas were a night’s stay is more than what most people pay in three or four mortgage payments.
So, when a problem arose, how would they not think it was legitimate? It’s the classic bait and switch maneuver and Leviev knew how long to bait and when to switch. You don’t ask for money on the second date. You don’t ask for money after the first month together. No, you build confidence. And more sadly for those who he swindled, he built a fake feeling love. And by them falling in love with him, they began to care more and worry about him.
When you’re in a relationship, even if it’s just more about friendship as is one case mentioned here, you take the bad days with the good days. And that’s what Leviev was banking on. Since he was telling people he was connected to a diamond mogul, he would let people on that it was a dangerous association. Leviev and his bodyguard and assistant would tell the women that their lives were in danger and even send pics and video of them in hospitals after being “assaulted.”
Were they really assaulted or were they willing to take one for the team to get some more money? People without a lot of decent morals and ethics will do anything if the price is right. The women featured in Swindler include Cecilie Fjelhoy, Pernilla Sjoholm and Ayleen Charlotte, all who claimed they were defrauded by Leviev. With Fjelhoy and Charlotte, it comes across as more a love romantic relationship while there was a more mutual relationship between him and Sjoholm.
I hate to give away a lot of the specifics but you feel for all the three woman as they got taken for money as well as their own trust. What hurts more? Being cheated out of money or being cheated and lied to? And while people might look at Leviev and wonder what was so great about him, then you may not understand love. Leviev toyed with these women’s emotions and I’m pretty sure a lot of people have been in similar situation.
But during their investigation, the filmmakers discover there’s more to Leviev than he’s telling people. He was born Shimon Hayut in Isreal and a woman claiming to be his mother but her face is blurred said he’s been conning people since he was a teenager. He’s not related to Lev Leviev. No surprise his Israeli family tells the filmmakers they’ve cut off contact with him.
But the best part is when Ayleen Charlotte becomes aware of the con and plays ignorant to Leviev to help authorities in Europe apprehend him in the end. Sadly, in the end, Leviev is never charged in connection with the claims of fraud of the three women featured here or the long list of people who also claim he’s conned and defrauded them. He was only convicted in Israel of fraud, theft and forgery and sentenced to only 15 months.
Leviev didn’t participate with the documentary but as reportedly been riding the coattails of its popularity off of Netflix. The sad truth is that Leviev knows that people will be willing to shower him with free drinks and meals, wild parties and even weekend getaways just to spend time with him. Con artist live for the con the way a predator is always on the prowl.
What do you think? Please comment.