A self-proclaimed billionaire heir asks you for money to save their life. What do you do?
Netflix documentary The Tinder Swindler was released on the streaming service on February 2, 2022.
How, in the 21st century, with all the technology and social media, are people still being cat-fished? Well, this is catfishing to an extreme. Being manipulated and swindled out of money to fund some neurotic psychopath’s lavish lifestyle is trending on Netflix recently. This documentary really showcases how easy it is for someone to completely fake their life online and convince people they’re someone they’re not. #trustissues
Netflix has released the documentary The Tinder Swindler, and clearly, from the title, this online romance is not going to have a happy, fairy-tale ending. In this documentary we are taken through the perfect then tragic love story between 29-year-old IT consultant Cecilie Fjellhoy, and billionaire businessman Simon Leviev. As the documentary continues, we learn that Simon is an Israeli fraudster called Shimon Hayut, a convicted criminal, who seduces women via dating apps, then convinces them his life depends on their help. He has made an estimated $10m from swindling women worldwide.
What I find fascinating is that nothing Leviev said or did was true and he was able to get away with it. He talks about a bodyguard who is a hired poser. The private jets he takes, paid for by another swindled woman’s money. His perfectly amicable ex? That woman is one of three women he had swindled in Finland before he was convicted and imprisoned there in 2015. It’s still unclear why the ex still associates with him. Extraordinarily she was on the jet with Fjellhoy and didn’t warn her.
What is also very interesting and eye-opening is how these women speak of this man with smiles and almost admiration, even though he swindled them. This man must have been one smooth, charming, sweet talker. They do show sadness when it comes to discussing the money, so money is the issue, not him? I see this in many manipulation stories, where the victims almost enjoy reminiscing about their times with the people who have double-crossed them. Then suddenly, and seriously, reality hits them in the face when they relive what really happened to them.
This is written and directed by Felicity Morris (Don’t F— With Cats) and is very well made. The interviews are conducted in an intimate setting, in a restaurant, as if you are on a date. Morris blends together VG’s investigations, recollections, voice, and text messages from Leviev, images from Tinder, and footage from Hollywood films. If you weren’t sure what dating online was like, this really does show you how. This documentary also takes a dramatic turn and becomes a feminist revenge story, where scorned, used women assist the investigators to bring Simon to justice. You can feel their anger when all they want is the truth. Shimon was eventually sentenced to 15 months in prison for theft and fraud charges he skipped out on in 2011 and was released after five months due to good behavior.
At two hours long, this documentary film is a great watch. Twenty to thirty minutes in I was wanting the drama to build as I was a bit bored of the love/romance story, and the documentary did deliver. This story is intense, gripping and one of the most dramatic ones I have seen come from a Tinder date. If you’re a fan of intense documentaries, I highly recommend them. Maybe not if you’re new to dating or wanting to get back on the dating scene, this might put you off. Remember guys, fantasy is not always reality. Do we blame Hollywood, Disney, social media, or ourselves for falling for the wrong people? I’ll let you decide.
What did you think of the Netflix documentary The Tinder Swindler? Comment below.