Conman, Shimon Hayut, has responded public backlash in the wake of new Netflix documentary, before going dark on social media.
The rise of Netflix documentaries over the past half-decade has shed major light on weird, fascinating, and often obscure special interest stories, gaining global traction where they would otherwise be unknown to the public. Everything from the genesis of these smash hits: 2015’s Making a Murderer which lead to the reopening of one of the most bizarre homicide cases in recent memory to 2020’s Tiger King, which became a cultural touchstone during the 2020 Covid19 lockdowns, spawning countless Twitter threads, online speculation and memes for the better half of a year.
The latest Netflix documentary taking the internet by storm is the dark and twisted tale of Shimon Hayut – a man who lied, cheated and conned several woman out of millions through the popular dating app tinder with the the lure of luxury holidays, lavish appartments and a life of exuberent wealth that very few can ever dream of.
The documentary reveals how the so-called ‘Tinder Swindler’ lured unsuspecting women almost ruining there entire lives, and how they went about exposing and bringing him to justice.
Hayut, posing a wealthy son of a prominent Israeli billionaire – going under the name Simon Leviev, of the Leviev family diamond dynasty – would travel around Europe arranging dates in expensive five-star hotels and whisking them away with the promise of a dazzling, globe-trotting love affair. And who wouldn’t be sold into this fantasy? Well, these promises took a dark turn when Leviev revealed his life and his wealth were being threatened by his ‘enemies’. He would trick his targets by getting them into taking out huge loans to pay off his ‘debts’, using fake bank documents to claim he’d repaid the money, which they would never see, and leaving them in crippling debt.
Part catfish, part the Talented Mr Ripley, Leviev’s Jekyl and Hyde charm has has captivated public’s attention, bringing him global fame or (perhaps infamy), with the conman gaining more than 200,000 followers on his Instagram account in the wake of the documentary’s release.
With pressure from the documentary’s success and the overwhelming backlash, many have been waiting for Hayut response to the documentary’s claims. However, It seems Hayut, not too pleased with the unwelcome attention, wants to share his own side of the story, which he has promised in a brief statement shared to instagram this past weekend, before going dark on Social Media.
‘I will share my side of the story in the next few days when I have sorted out the best and most respectful way to tell it, both to the involved parties and myself,’ he wrote, adding, ‘Until then, please keep an open mind and heart.’
The conman has up until now faced little in the way of justice. Though previously serving time in Finland for defrauding several women, he has been able to continue his con unabated. However, now facing the court of public opinion, he is now being forced to answer for his crimes. Netflix’s documentary estimates Hayut tricked his Tinder targets out of a total of more than $10 million (£7.4 million), using money stolen from his various targets to pay for his elaborate Ponzi scheme.
He was finally brought to his knees after his victims started sharing their stories, unraveling his con before Greek authorities made an arrest in 2019 for traveling on a fake passport. He was eventually deported back to his home country of Israel, where he was sentenced to 15 months in prison for theft and forgery charges dating back to 2012.
Though he was eventually brought to justice, he now walks as a free man, released after five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nevertheless, many hope that the popularity of the documentary and the public now holding his feet to the fire will prevent others from falling prey to his con. Hayut remains wanted in several countries on charges of fraud and forgery.