Netflix has purchased a documentary on the "Tinder Swindler," who tricked women he met on the dating app into giving him millions of dollars. The notorious con-man pretended to be Russian oligarch Simon Leviev, the son of Russian-Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev. He would take his victims — mostly Scandinavian women — on trips via private jets, stay with them in luxury hotels and treat them to expensive dinners. In truth, he's an Israeli man named Shimon Hayut, who fled to Europe twice to escape theft, forgery and fraud charges in his home country.
Online dating scams have been fairly common these past years, with con-artists using every available outlet into finding potential victims. According to the FTC, losses to romance scams reached a record $304 million last year. And that's just for the scams Americans reported to the agency. The Tinder Swindler hit the headlines for living a jet set lifestyle, though, with previous victims funding his efforts into wooing his current ones.
Hayut would spend months pretending to be in a relationship with his targets before he begins asking them for money, usually pretending to be in trouble to ask his current "girlfriend" for help. Norwegian publication VG spent six months tracking Hayut and got in contact with two of his most recent victims. One of the women it interviewed said she had to take out loans to help him out and ended up being scammed out of 2.1 Norwegian Krones (US$244,000).
Netflix's documentary will be produced by the makers of Three Identical Strangers and Don't F*** With Cats, both of which are also available on the streaming platform. It will also be directed by Felicity Morris of Don't F*** With Cats. Variety says it will follow the women Hayut conned as they "uncover his true identity and bring him to justice." The Tinder Swindler was arrested by Greek police back in 2019 and was extradited to Israel, but he was released last year after only serving five months of a 15 month sentence. Half a year later, in December 2020, he allegedly pretended to be a paramedic to get a COVID—19 vaccine shot early — and then posted a video of the event on Instagram.