The Tinder Swindler follows the story of several women scammed by a conman posing as a suave billionaire
The Tinder Swindler is a Netflix documentary about Simon Leviev, a con artist who scammed women he met on Tinder out of $10 million. Directed by Felicity Morris, with testimonials from victims and the scammer himself, the documentary centres on the extent of the scam and how everything came to be.
The first victim encountered in the documentary is Cecile, who is a self-proclaimed Tinder expert. It becomes apparent that she is a serial dater and knows a thing or two about navigating dating apps, which is why it is all the more shocking that she got scammed out of $250,000. As she becomes engrossed in Simon’s luxury lifestyle of being the supposed heir of ‘diamond king’ Lev Leviev, and the ensuing luxury bouquets, he sends her some worrying pictures. The pictures show Simon and his ‘bodyguard’ (who isn’t actually his bodyguard but a fellow conman) bloodied and injured. Simon claims that his ‘enemies’ (who obviously don’t exist) have found him and that he can no longer access his billionaire’s hoard.
Taking inspiration from a piece published in a Norwegian newspaper, The Tinder Swindler is a cautionary tale for the 75 million people who rely on the app for dating. As more victims give their testimonies, it becomes apparent that even the most careful and level-headed women can find themselves falling for a conman psychopath.
Then we have Pernilla, a well-to-do Swedish woman who seems less like a deer in headlights than Cecile. Her response to matching with Leviev was “Oh my God, another diamond guy.” To this, the director asks “Another diamond guy?”, which shows that she has been involved with a diamond heir before, and is accustomed to the luxury, jet setting lifestyle that the rich usually have. However, despite his attempts at seducing her, she does not get romantically involved and instead chooses to be friends with him. She spends her summer flitting around Europe with Leviev and his Russian model girlfriend. That is, until he mentions how his enemies have found him - we all know how things go after that.
Scams such as Leviev’s are a product of living your life online. Cecile mentioned that she Googled Simon, as one does with any match, and figured everything checked out. His social media presence coincided with what he said he was. He even had legitimate looking websites set up to authenticate his scam.
Unlike previous documentaries that exposed scams such as Catfish, The Tinder Swindler really delves into the nitty gritty of this long con involving luxury cars, brands and scenic places, making it apparent that such a setting would be hard for anyone to resist.
Several of the swindled women describe their initial experience as being in a movie. Another woman describes her life as being in a “horror movie”. The title is pretty self explanatory and foreshadows that Leviev, who claims to be the son of a billionaire diamond mogul, was actually a convicted scammer named Shimon Hayut.
Scams such as Leviev’s are a product of living your life online. Cecile mentions that she Googled Simon, as one does with any match, and figured everything checked out. His social media presence coincided with what he said he was and he had legitimate looking websites set up to authenticate his scam.
As the web of scams and lies unravels, embarrassed and financially drained victims continue to come forward with their story putting the total amount of swindled money at $10 million, some of which the victims are paying off to this day.
The Tinder Swindler slowly peels away layer after layer of the story. It is about looking for love on the internet, scams and the charisma and strategy of con artists who know how to lure victims. The tone moves towards that of a thriller as Interpol and the Norwegian press try to find Simon and bring him to justice. It concludes on a resilient note, as the devastated women attempt to get their money and their pride back despite facing backlash for being ‘gold diggers’. The issue of policing online activity and criminalising it is touched upon as white collar crime finds a new home on the internet. While financial crimes may be considered “small”, the effect on the victims is no less devastating.
The Tinder Swindler is sure to make the audience question their usage of dating apps, leading them back to the sofa to watch Netflix instead of going out, making it an effective customer retention strategy. The documentary has proven to be an interesting offering in comparison to the
filler shows that Netflix keeps churning out, making it a recommended watch.
The author is a staff member