The first surprise of Netflix’s hit film The Tinder Swindler, the only documentary to top the company’s global most-watched list. Directed by Felicity Morris, the documentary became the first documentary to top the streamer’s weekly film chart, garnering 45.8 million hours of views globally during its first week. It also charted in the top ten in 92 countries.

The new Netflix documentary is the latest scammer story to take the internet by storm. The title’s “swindler” is ridiculous in every way, but he chose his victims wisely: women in their early 30s who were oblivious to the absurdity of a guy posing as a “billionaire’s son” using dating app. 

According to the show, Hayut was able to scam women out of approximately $10 million while using dating sites. To begin, he’d pose as the child of Lev Leviev, an Israeli billionaire involved in the diamond industry, and woo his targets with trips on private planes and stays in 5 stars hotels. (In an ironic twist, Leviev’s actual son, Zevulun, was arrested in 2018 as part of a crackdown on a diamond smuggling operation.)

It isn’t just about the cash. Following the story’s virality, online commentators labelled Leviev’s victims as gold-diggers who got what they deserved, but the reality is far more tragic. “Oh my God, animals,” one of Leviev’s victims recalls, recalling the Tinder profile that drew her in. “A good-looking man with a cat?” There’s no way to go wrong.”

It’s hard to go into detail about the scam without spoiling the movie. 

The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang covered Hayut for six months, focusing on a victim named Cecilie Schrder Fjellhy. Cecilie said she and Simon met in London in January 2018 while Hayut was accompanied by a bodyguard and other entourage members. He later told her that he was receiving threats from diamond industry competitors and asked her to open a credit card in her name but under his name, which she did. He later sent her a video purportedly showing his bodyguard being attacked and requested that she wire him money. She racked up over TZS 580 million in debt to assist him.

Hayut eventually sent her a forged document claiming that he had repaid the debt. They planned to meet in Oslo, but he abruptly cancelled and demanded more money, prompting her to cut ties with him.

Simon had been convicted of fraud against three Finnish women in 2015 and had a history of pulling similar con tricks on people. According to Verdens Gang, he had been charged with “theft, forgery, and fraud” in his home country of Israel back in 2011, but traveled to Europe instead of showing up for his trial. Leviev successfully manipulated several women before claiming his family was being violently threatened and asking his victims to take out loans on his behalf to help deal with a purported security emergency.

Each of his actions was deliberate, and they are mirrored in known offending patterns more broadly.

According to Netflix, Hayut was apprehended after another woman he’d been involved with saw the Verdens Gang article and reported him to Greek authorities. For good measure, she appears to have sold some of his designer clothing and kept the money rather than giving it to him, transforming the swindler into the swindlee.

Hayut was apparently banned from Tinder, and several other internet dating services like Match.com and OkCupid have done the same.

The Tinder Swindler took off on Netflix as soon as it dropped, on February 2. Now Hayut has hinted that we’ll get his perspective on the story, whatever that is. Right before deleting his Instagram account, the Tinder Swindler posted that soon he would be sharing his “side of the story,” per Glamour U.K. 

“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,” Hayut wrote. “Until then, please keep an open mind and heart.”

Simon deleted the account shortly after sharing the post. 

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