Netflix has acquired a documentary about the “Tinder Swindler,” who defrauded women he met on the dating app out of millions of dollars. The notorious con artist pretended to be Russian oligarch Simon Leviev, the son of Russian-Israeli diamond magnate Lev Leviev.
He would fly his victims, mostly Scandinavian women, on private jets, stay in luxury hotels, and treat them to expensive dinners. In reality, he’s Shimon Hayut, an Israeli who fled to Europe twice to avoid theft, forgery, and fraud charges in his home country.
Online dating scams have become fairly common in recent years, with con artists exploiting every available channel to find potential victims. According to the FTC, romance scam losses reached a new high of $304 million last year.
And that’s just for the scams reported to the agency by Americans. However, the Tinder Swindler made headlines for living a jet set lifestyle, with previous victims funding his efforts to woo his current victims.
Hayut would spend months pretending to be in a relationship with his targets before approaching them for money, usually pretending to be in trouble in order to seek assistance from his current “girlfriend.”
Hayut was tracked down for six months by Norwegian publication VG, who got in touch with two of his most recent victims. One of the women interviewed said she had to take out loans to help him and was duped out of 2.1 Norwegian Krones (US$244,000).
The documentary will be produced by the same people who brought you Three Identical Strangers and Don’t F*** With Cats, both of which are available on Netflix. Felicity Morris of Don’t F*** With Cats will also direct.
According to Variety, the show will follow the women Hayut defrauded as they “uncover his true identity and bring him to justice.” The Tinder Swindler was apprehended by Greek authorities in 2019 and extradited to Israel, but he was released last year after serving only five months of a 15-month sentence.
Half a year later, in December 2020, he allegedly pretended to be a paramedic in order to receive an early COVID—19 vaccine shot, and then posted a video of the event on Instagram.