Review of the Netflix documentary The Tinder Swindler directed by Felicity Morris
Another con-man story. I’m pretty good at spotting scams. I’ve kept scammers on the phone, letting them think that I’m about to give them what they’re after, only to ask for their names to give to the FBI. The closest I have come to being scammed involved a text message I received with the title security alert. I contacted the person who sent the text message. It all sounded plausible. He asked for some information, which I foolishly provided. It was only after he asked me to verify an automated response from AT&T that I became suspicious. So I called AT&T directly. The guy had placed an order for a $1,000 iPhone. I canceled the transaction.
The con man in this story, Shimon Hayut, is a world-class scam artist. Shimon uses the dating app Tinder to find his victims. Once he locks on to a potential victim, Shimon plays the role of a wealthy businessman. He travels the world. He has a bodyguard. His social media profiles are full of images showing him surround by luxury and wealth.
As with all con-men, he is sketchy about his work. He uses fictitious names like Simon Leviev, making it difficult for women to learn his true identity. Once he gains their trust, he tells them a convoluted story about frozen bank accounts. Then, he asks for their help, promising to pay everything back. By this time, the women are so confident in his ability to pay them back that they fork over whatever he asks for, even if it means taking out a loan or loans.
It’s only after the creditors start calling and Shimon starts sending the women fake checks or fake Rolex watches to pay off their debts that they realize the truth.
This documentary is worth watching if for no other reason than to see how Shimon reacts when he is on the receiving end of a scam. But, like the scammer covered in the documentary series Bad Vegan, the punishment does not fit the crime.