Netflix has scored a hit with its true-crime documentary The Tinder Swindler, about the conman Shimon Hayut who posed as a super-wealthy diamond trader on the dating app and cheated women out of their money.
The Tinder Swindler only launched on the streaming service on Wednesday but the jaw-dropping film has sparked a big reaction, especially as it was believed Hayut, who posed as Simon Leviev among others, was still active on Twinder.
That belief has been stamped out by Tinder, however, which said on Friday: “We have conducted internal investigations and can confirm Simon Leviev is no longer active on Tinder under any of his known aliases.”
It is safe to go back in the deep waters of the dating app.
The Tinder Swindler charts Hayut’s tawdry tale as he used dating apps to meet women, mainly around Europe, establish credit and loans in their name, then leave them with the debts. It's thought he fraudulently obtained up to $10m.
He was able to keep the con going by changing his identity, even after he was convicted and imprisoned for fraud in Israel – serving five months of a 15-month sentence – and his scams seemed to follow a set routine.
Hayut’s accusers say he took them on an expensive first date then developed the relationship in absentia while he was supposedly on business around the world. At a certain point he would tell them he was worried his ‘enemies’ were getting close to him and deepen the illusion by sending them a photo of his bleeding bodyguard. Then he would ask them to create a credit card for him to help protect his secrecy.
Before The Tinder Swindler launched on Netflix this week it was thought that Hayut was still active on dating apps and this week he was defending himself on Instagram.
He thanked his followers for their 'support', before adding: “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.”
He continued: “Until then, please keep an open mind and heart.”
However his Instagram page was deleted on Friday.
The documentary has had a big impact judging by social media reaction. One viewer summed up many other’s responses: “Just watched the Tinder swindler on Netflix and it blows my mind that the Israel police let Simon leviev go after 5 months in jail and while the women whom he conned off $10m are still paying off the debts on his behalf.”
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.