Love

Could YOU Have Been Conned By The Tinder Swindler?

Photo: Instagram
simon leviev

Have you ever noticed how rarely anyone talks about what’s actually going on?

I realize marketing works a certain way, and so does journalism. But let’s address the one thing I haven’t heard anyone say about the new Netflix hit, The Tinder Swindler.

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Guard your heart, protect your finances.

Social media for the show promises to “make you reconsider using any dating app to find love” and this is even a question posed to one of the victims at the very end of the documentary. So … are you back on Tinder?

But let’s be clear. Tinder has nothing to do with this con, nor does the act of online dating.

Feel free, friends! Your ability to hook up in peace is not being threatened.

That’s the good news, I guess. Here’s the bad news: the Tinder Swindler con can happen to anyone, anywhere.

“Well, it won’t happen to me — I’m too smart. I’m not gullible, etc.”

And if you feel that way … I can’t blame you. That said, Simon Leviev (or Shimon Yehuda Hayut) scammed women around the world out of $10 million dollars.

Did any of them know better? Did any of them *almost* know better? It probably wouldn’t be “good TV” to ask them — and maybe that’s why no one has.

But we need to talk about how this happened because it’s not one or two gullible women, it’s potentially dozens of women just being swindled by this man, and likely, more getting taken elsewhere.

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Here are a few ways to swindle-poof your life, financially and emotionally.

Money is a touchy subject for most! Can we all agree on that? (If you said no, I’m gonna go ahead and bet that you’re super-wealthy.)

The *personal* feelings most of us have about money make us avoid talking about it, and that is precisely what makes people vulnerable to losing it. You can argue that it’s not always *simple* but in some ways … it really is.

Here are six important money rules:

  1. Don’t ever loan money.
  2. If you do loan money, do not ever loan an amount that would cause you financial distress if it were not returned.
  3. If you must loan money, put the terms of the loan in writing.
  4. Seriously, don’t loan money.
  5. If someone you really love and (feel an obligation to) needs money and you choose to loan it to them, do your due diligence to see where the money is going. Whether you’re bailing a friend out of jail, helping someone start a business, or anything else, a situation warranting a loan is one where you deserve some basic info to make you feel comfortable with your investment.
  6. If you have to take out a loan to get money for someone else, you better be married to them or have lived inside their womb for nine months.

Could I ever be vulnerable to this type of scheme? I sure don’t think so.

All of the women who were conned by Simon Leviev seemed pretty smart. So, what made them vulnerable?

Would this money advice have saved them? I tend to think it would have, but let’s also include a few other issues here that could have put them in a more challenging position:

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1. Love-bombing.

Love-bombing is an abusive tactic used in relationships where intense amounts of affection are given early via anything from attention to gifts, in order to manipulate.

In the case of Simon Leviev, he not only love-bombed his marks, but he also showed them a lavish lifestyle. He generously invited women into his lifestyle; fed them fancy dinners, and took them on expensive trips. When it came time to ask for money, they could logically understand he was “good for it” and therefore made a calculated risk when taking out a loan, right?

Sure.

Except for one thing: refer to the rules on loaning money.

2. The Dramatic Enemy-Driven Plot 

In the documentary, we see the same story play out a few times, though it was likely carried out dozens of times. After love-bombing his mark, Simon runs into some trouble- he leaves a message- he had a rough night, he’s scared, he’s hurt. Someone hurt his bodyguard. He sends the same photos each time, of his bodyguard, bleeding.

Obviously, he needs a loan. He’s in danger and I can just take out a loan and send him the cash. He’s good for it because I’ve seen how rich he is…

Now, this is an extra scammy part of the scam. Maybe you’re still shaking your head at the gullible woman who fell for this, but honestly, I think if I was dating someone and they sent me a photo of their bodyguard covered in blood, I’d do just about anything to help the situation.

But the money rules still apply! See how if the money rules ever stop applying, we are up shit’s creek?

As long as we stick to our boundaries, we become mostly scam-proof.

Would I believe my boyfriend? Yeah. I would; I’d want him to call the police, and if he chose not to, for, whatever reason… that wouldn’t be my choice.

But no, I would not send him any money I could not afford to lose.

And if I chose to help, all of the boxes would have to be checked.

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So, this con artist was sentenced to 15 months in prison and got out after five! Somehow, he’s a free man.

The documentary mentions that the women are all still dealing with the financial fallout, which appears to be true, though at least one of the women has had some of her loans forgiven.

But what about the most important question: HOW?

What I really wish someone would share is a real rundown of how these smart, articulate women made these choices, because as easy as it is to watch this and go “Oh, there is ZERO chance I would ever make these mistakes” people make these kinds of life-ruining choices every day.

This reminds me a bit of NXIVM and how many people got scammed and made such drastic and detrimental changes to their lives…

We’re all just out here doing our best, but the more honestly we share our experiences, the more of a chance we have of keeping others safe.

Along with my list of money rules, at least one of the women in the documentary broke some other common-sense rules: almost immediately hopping on a private plane.

I was immediately thinking, “Oh my gosh, she’s going to get trafficked” and you might say, “Whoa there Bonnie, don’t miss the opportunity to go on a private plane with your brand new, rich boyfriend? What, are you gonna just live in fear?”

And to that I say: a healthy fear of logical consequences of our actions is exactly what keeps us (and our finances) safe.

As eager as you are to find your true love, don’t ever change your safety rules and standards.

If someone does not respect you for having standards and boundaries, run. Do your due diligence.

And one more time, for the loud kids in the back who haven’t been listening: don’t loan anyone money.

Bonnie Sludikoff is an LA-based writer, performer, and activist. She founded That's What She Didn't Say, a campaign dedicated to creating healthy conversations about challenging subjects. You can follow her journey on Medium or Twitter.

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This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.