There’s a new Netflix docu-series which we think should be on your watchlist: The Tinder Swindler released this year, and it’s making a buzz online.
This new series examines the true story of a fraudulent conman who tricks innocent women on Tinder, and steals millions of dollars from them. It’s similar to The Puppermaster, which is also on Netflix and we covered recently- except these crimes happened virtually. The series focuses on the women who became victims of the cruel conman, and how they met him in the first place.
The first woman that the series focuses on is a Norwegian graduate student, Cecilie Fjellhoy, who lives in London in 2018. She tries to find love on dating apps, trying to find someone who interests her. She stumbles upon a man named Simon Leviev, who leads an intriguing lifestyle. Cecilie is eventually convinced that Simon needs her help, and she begins paying him money to help him escape the “enemies” that he claims are pursuing him. It is, of course, a con, and we see the effects that his crimes had on her.
We all have a level of vulnerability online...
Simon Leviev is in reality an alias for Shimon Hayut, an Israeli conman. Everything that he claimed about his life to Cecilie was fake, and it cost her a huge amount of money and time, as well as damaging her trust in dating apps. The Tinder Swindler series addresses something that’s become a problem over recent years, that we all have a level of vulnerability online, in part because people can be relatively anonymous if they choose to be, and dating apps and sites can in particular be an area that’s exploited by criminals. The series is a fascinating watch, and one that reminds us the internet is still a place that can be exploited for criminal gain, sometimes to an extent that wasn’t possible before.
The other two women that the series focuses on are Swedish Pernilla Sjoholm and Dutch Ayleen Charlotte, who were also caught up in the fraud, with Pernilla being exploited at the same time as Cecilie. The difference between this case of catfishing and others is that Simon Leviev goes further and uses a hired plane and bodyguard to make his story more believable, and the women would be taken into a fake constructed world to make them trust fully in him. Cecilie would take out money and loans to give to Leviev to help him get rid of his “enemies”, assuming she’d be paid back, but of course she never was.
Of course, everyone tries to present a perfect image of themselves to those who’s affections they’re trying to win, and everyone has a fantasy of a successful perfect person coming into their life to live happily ever after with. But The Tinder Swindler is scary because it plays into those fears and creates a sense of paranoia. Since debuting, the Netflix production has reignited discussions about safety online and being cautious with strangers, and the show makes for hugely watchable viewing.
The Tinder Swindler is yet another gripping Netflix documentary, and one we recommend bingeing as soon as possible. It shows the perils of our increasingly online world, as well as showing how easy it is to be scammed and exploited. It may make you feel somewhat paranoid, or at least cautious- but it’s still a very entertaining series.
THE TINDER SWINDLER IS NOW AVAILABLE TO STREAM ON NETFLIX