Simon Leviev, born Shimon Hayut in Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv, changed his name but had no connection to the Israeli diamond billionaire family. He fled Israel in 2011 to avoid trial for fraud-related offenses committed in his early 20s and set up shop in Finland, as detailed in the new Netflix documentary.
After two years in Finnish jail for swindling three ladies in 2015, he returned to Israel in 2017. He escaped before being captured, returning to Europe, where The Tinder Swindler picks up Cecilie’s story.
It went like this: He met women on Tinder, pretended to be a wealthy heir working in the perilous diamond business, and started long-distance relationships.
He was “traveling for work” and living luxuriously on the prior target’s cash. He’d tell his girlfriend he was in danger, transmit videos of his “bodyguard” bleeding, and tell her he needed to use a credit card in someone else’s name to avoid being monitored.
His women mailed him credit cards, took out loans and lines of credit, and even sent him suitcases of cash. He vowed to repay them. They believed him because he was the diamond prince, flew private, lived at the fanciest hotels, and wore designer clothes. And he did pay them back: with bounced checks, bogus watches, and failed bank transfers. Each woman had no idea that the wealth they saw had been paid for by the woman who had come before them—women who were alone, in debt, and yearning for answers.
After being wanted in Israel, Sweden, England, Germany, Denmark, and Norway, Leviev was ultimately captured using a fraudulent passport in Greece in July 2019 and extradited to Israel. He refuted all charges at the time.
“I have the freedom to select my own name, and I never claimed to be anyone’s son,” he told Israel’s Channel 12 news. “Perhaps their hearts were broken… The women had fun in my company, explored the world on my dime,” he stated.
In December 2019, he was found guilty of theft, fraud, and document forgery in Israel, and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was discharged after five months on good behavior.
Simon Leviev, 33 is now a free man in Israel, according to Instagram tales in The Tinder Swindler. His account had around 100,000 followers before the Netflix program, but it was private. But when the doc gained traction, Simon erased his Instagram.
Preceding his deletion, he wrote: “Thank you for your help. I’ll offer my side of the story in a few days after I’ve figured out the most courteous way to explain it to both sides. Keep an open mind and heart until then.”
Notably, Simon Leviev has not been charged with any crimes committed outside of Israel, such as the conning of Cecilie Fjellhy, Pernilla Sjöholm, or Ayleen Charlotte.
According to The Times of Israel, he swindled victims throughout the continent for $10 million between 2017 and 2019. Debts still owed by Cecilie, Pernilla, and Ayleen