Simon Leviev has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks after the release of documentary The Tinder Swindler.
The documentary, which aired on 2 February, followed three of his victims – Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjöholm, and Ayleen Charlotte – as they spoke of how they met him on Tinder and became convinced he was genuinely in love with them.
Leviev also successfully convinced the women that he was a wealthy man, taking them on private jets and lavishing expensive gifts and trips on them. However, he would later exploit their trust to ask for money, leaving them in monumental debt.
Since the release, Leviev has criticised the show and the conmen, claiming the documentary is a “made-up movie”. He has also denied that he is the Tinder Swindler.
But who is Simon Leviev, and how come he isn’t in jail? Here’s everything we know about the now-notorious con man.
Is ‘Simon Leviev’ his real name?
Simon Leviev was born Shimon Hayut. He was born in Bnei Brak, Israel, and is 31 years old.
According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he legally changed his name to Simon Leviev so that his passport and driver’s license would “prove his credibility”.
Is Simon Leviev the son of a billionaire?
The Tinder Swindler explains how Leviev presents himself as the son of Russian-Israeli diamond mogul, Lev Leviev, in order to trick women into believing he is wealthy.
Lev, who has a net worth of USD$1 billion as March 2018, is married to Olga Leviev, and has four children – none of whom are named Simon.
Lev is the founder of LLD Diamonds, which is one of the world’s largest diamond cutting groups.
The company said in a statement to Newsweek after the Netflix release: “LLD Diamonds has been a well-regarded leader in the diamond industry for three decades. Our company has no connection whatsoever to Shimon Hayut.
“Our sympathies go out to his victims. His fraud has also caused ongoing confusion about our company. Nothing he has said, about LLD or anything else, should be believed.
“As soon as we learned of the fraud, we filed a complaint with the Israeli police and we hope that Mr Hayut faces the justice he deserves.”
How did Simon Leviev get caught?
According to The Tinder Swindler, Leviev is a “professional” con man and carries out his schemes as a living.
In 2011, he was arrested and charged in Israel for crimes of theft, forgery, fraud and cashing stolen cheques.
He was released on bail for USD$3,000 but fled the country later that year under another fake identity,The Times of Israel reported.
In 2015, he was reportedly charged with defrauding three women while living in Finland and was sent to prison until 2017.
He was returned to Israel by the authorities but fled again under his new identity as Simon Leviev and began using Tinder to match with women and trick them into loaning him money that would never be repaid.
But in 2019, after six months of investigative research and reporting by the staff of the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, Leviev was located in Munich, Germany.
The publication described his actions as a “Ponzi scheme”, where he would con women into giving him money which he then used to fund his lavish lifestyle and charm other women to keep the scam going.
He was subsequently arrested after a joint operation between Interpol and Israel Police. Leviev was convicted of the crimes he was charged with in 2011, unrelated to his crimes in Europe, and sentenced to 15 months in prison.
However, he was released on good behaviour after just five months. His Instagram page showed him continuing to live a life of luxury and he claimed to be a business consultant.
What does Simon Leviev do now?
Since the release of the Netflix documentary, Leviev has sought to dismiss the claims made by his victims in the show.
He is set to appear in his first interview since the documentary aired on 21 and 22 February, in a two-part exclusive interview with US news programme Inside Edition, hosted by Deborah Norville and Mary Calvi.
Leviev deleted his Instagram shortly after the series dropped, but returned less than a week later. He used the page to defend himself and deny that he is a fraudster.
In an Instagram Story, Leviev wrote: “If I was a fraud why would I act on Netflix I mean they should have arrested me when we were still shooting [sic].
“It’s high time the ladies start saying the truth. If you can’t give them world they’ll turn yours to hell [sic].”
He has also been seen charging fans for personalised video messages on video app Cameo. Fans can get a personal recorded message for £146 from Leviev on the app, while a professional video for businesses costs £1,460.
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