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'The Tinder Swindler': Who is Shimon Hayut? Conman's crazy life inspired Netflix docu

Indulging in criminal activities since he was 20, Shimon Hayut has managed to rob multiple people of hundreds of thousands of dollars
'Tinder Swindler' is based on Shimon Hayut's life (Instagram/Netflix)
'Tinder Swindler' is based on Shimon Hayut's life (Instagram/Netflix)

We all have our reasons for going on Tinder. For most of us, it's the need for company and the possibility of meeting somebody who could end up being the one! However, this wasn't why Shimon Hayut landed on the dating application. Using Tinder under the alias of Simon Leviev, he created the illusion of being a globetrotting businessman and misled multiple women into giving him huge sums of money. This is the story that made Felicity Morris and Netflix come up with 'The Tinder Swindler', the streaming giant's upcoming true-crime documentary.

The documentary follows three women who set out to bring down Hayut after he deceived them and robbed them of their life savings. The conman also made the women incur massive debts, with one of them opening multiple lines of credit just to fund his activities. For those new to true-crime documentaries, you could take a look at 'Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer,' 'Tiger King,' 'Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist,' and 'Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.'


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Who is Shimon Hayut?

Born in 1991, Shimon Hayut grew up in a modest apartment in the orthodox city of Bnei Brak in central Israel. His father Yohanan Hayut is the chief rabbi of El Al Airlines. As a boy, Shimon studied in a Talmud Torah elementary school near his home.

Shimon began his acts of crime at the age of 20, stealing checks from a family of a 4-year-old that he babysat in Kiryat Ono. He did the same while working as a handyman at the home of a businessman in Herzliya Pituah. Shimon used that money to buy a Porsche and to take flying lessons. He also conned a classmate at the aviation school by making him invest in a non-existent deal.

In 2014, Shimon Hayut was accused of theft, forgery and fraud. However, he fled to Finland using a forged passport before he could be convicted. Hayut was charged with defrauding three women there and was sentenced to three years in prison. Following his prison sentence, he was extradited to Israel in 2017 where he discovered that the indictments against him had been updated. Hayut was arrested by the Israeli police but was released on bail, paid by his brother and a friend. It was during this time that Hayut created the identity of Simon Leviev. He also formally changed his last name to Leviev so that his driver's license and passport would be credible. He fled Israel for the second time soon after and started operating in Europe.

Calling himself Simon Leviev, Hayut started looking for his prey on Tinder. He claimed to be the wayward son of Lev Avernovich Leviev, a prominent Israeli businessman and billionaire. Hayut took the tag Prince of Diamonds from Lev, who is called the King of Diamonds due to his massive investments in the diamond mining industry. Hayut made his victims believe that he was Lev's prodigal son and that his family showered him with money to stay away from them. He'd lure them with his extravagant lifestyle, earn their trust meticulously for months, and then exploit it by stealing their cash.

The Israeli conman would tell the victim that he had to maintain a low profile owing to security issues and that he needed access to their funds because his accounts were being tailed by those who wanted to harm him. Hayut would use the funds to entice his next victim, effectively running a Ponzi scheme. He would promise them a repayment but that would never happen. Some say Hayut's Tinder swindling scam comes up to a whopping $10 million. One of his victims decided to come out and he was arrested in 2019. Hayut was sentenced to 15 months in prison but was released in 5 due to the coronavirus outbreak. In the months following his release, he made the news once again, this time for impersonating a frontline worker so that he could get vaccinated. Shimon Hayut is at large since then. 

'The Tinder Swindler' is slated to release on Netflix on February 2, 2022.