On their first date, in January 2018, Simon Leviev flew Cecilie Fjellhøy on a private plane from London to Bulgaria just for one night. They had met on Tinder, and after a coffee date at his hotel, he had regretted having to go on a business trip… but maybe she would like to join him? She Googled her date – he was the son of “diamond king” Lev Leviev, a notorious Russian-Israeli diamond oligarch. She quickly returned home and packed a bag while her driver waited. It was the start of a whirlwind relationship that would ultimately leave her heartbroken, deceived, and over $200,000 in debt. Netflix’s Latest True Crime Documentary The Tinder scammer allows Cecilie, along with Pernilla Sjöholm and Ayleen Charlotte – just three of Simon Leviev’s many victims – to tell their stories.
Born Shimon Hayut in Bnei Brak, a town just east of Tel Aviv, Simon Leviev change his name, but in fact had no connection with the family of the Israeli diamond magnates. He first fled Israel in 2011 to avoid trial for fraud-related crimes he had signed up in his early twenties and traveled to Finland, where he began directing the program now featured in the new Netflix documentary. In 2015 he served 2 years in Finnish prison after defrauding three women, and upon his release in 2017, he returned to Israel. Before he could be arrested, he escaped again, returning to Europe, where The Tinder scammer picks up with Cecilie’s story.
His scheme, according to the new Netflix doc, was this: He would meet women on Tinder, trick them into believing he was a wealthy heir working in the dangerous diamond business, and start long-distance relationships. All the while he was “travelling for work” and living lavishly at the expense of his previous purpose. After dating a woman for a while, he explained he was in danger, sent videos of his bleeding ‘bodyguard’ and told his girlfriend he had to use a credit card in someone’s name. another so it can’t be tracked. Her girlfriends sent her credit cards, took out loans and lines of credit, and even made her steal suitcases of cash when she needed it. He promised them that he would pay them back. Of course they believed him, he was the prince of diamonds, flew everywhere in private, stayed in the fanciest hotels and was always dripping in designer clothes. And he paid them back: with bad checks, fake watches and bank transfers that never went through. Little did each woman know that all the wealth she witnessed had been paid for by the woman before her – the women she was, at that time, were alone, in debt and desperate for answers.
Wanted in Israel, Sweden, England, Germany, Denmark and Norway, Leviev was eventually caught by police using a fake passport in Greece in July 2019 and extradited in Israel after the wild events of the Netflix documentary. At the time, he denied all charges against him. “I have the right to choose the name I want, I’ve never presented myself as anyone’s son, but people use their imaginations,” he said. Recount Channel 12 news in Israel. “Maybe their hearts were broken in the process… I never took a penny from them; these women had fun in my company, they traveled and got to see the world at my expense,” he said.
In December 2019, he was sentenced of theft, fraud and falsification of documents in Israel – charges dating from 2011, unrelated to his crimes across Europe – and sentenced to 15 months in prison. After serving five months in prison, he was released for good behavior.
“How can you give confidence to a man like that, who escaped from Israel twice? A man who cheated and defrauded women in Europe out of hundreds of thousands of euros. Where is the justice?” Pernilla Sjoholm Recount Channel 12 news from Israel when news of Simon’s release broke. “I and other women have taken legal action against him in the European Court of Justice and lodged complaints against him with Interpol,” said a Finnish woman who wished to remain anonymous. “Private investigators and people from Interpol are waiting for him to leave Israel to arrest him,” said another victim. “He ruined my life and broke me emotionally and financially.”
Currently 31, Simon Leviev lives as a free man in Israel, according to instagram stories shown in The Tinder scammer. His account is currently private, although he has nearly 100,000 followers.
Simon Leviev has not been charged with any crimes that may have occurred outside of Israel, including the scam of Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjöholm or Ayleen Charlotte, who appear in the Netflix documentary. According to The Times of Israel, he allegedly defrauded around $10 million from victims across the continent from 2017 to 2019 alone. Cecilie, Pernilla and Ayleen are still paying off their debts.
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