The Tinder Swindler’s Playbook | 4 Red Flags to Watch for on Dating Apps

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Anyone can get giddy at the thought of falling in love, not only hopeless romantics or those who live for romance novels with a Fabio-look-a-like ravaging a beautiful woman on the cover. Being in love is fundamental to being human, and there is nothing like it. 

The experience of searching for love, the thrill of the chase for love, and most people relate to the struggle of searching for love. And now that so many of us are using dating apps on our hunt for romance, while they are convenient and fantastic for connecting people who would’ve never met if not for online dating, some horror stories come with the territory. 

The problem with love is how it may impair one’s judgment. You go on a date with the “prince of diamonds” at a five-star hotel, and the next thing you know, his enemies are shaking him down, and you have to take out a loan to help him out. You don’t think to ask who these enemies are or why they want to harm him–you just care that he will be okay.

How can you make sure he’s safe? How about you send him a few thousand bucks right now through wire transfer so he’ll remain that way? His Tinder photographs are evidence of his fortune, and he assures you that he is rich beyond your wildest dreams and will repay you.

The Tinder Swindler

The tale above is The Tinder Swindler, which dropped on Netflix in 2022; it is a documentary (yes, it really happened) about scam artist Shimon Hayut, who was reared in a little community near Tel Aviv, Israel. 

The almost-too-crazy-to-be-true-crime documentary chronicles Hayut, a virtual nobody who became a very real someone by means of deceit, manipulation, threats, and the dating app Tinder. Simon Leviev is his Tinder name; his father, Lev Leviev, is a genuine, successful Israeli businessman frequently referred to as the “King of Diamonds.” You can easily find that Lev Leviev’s estimated worth is $1.5 billion by doing a Google search. But you’ll also see that Lev does not have a child named Simon or Shimon, either.

In The Tinder Swindler, we follow Hayut and the three victims he conned out of a great deal of money. The film opens with Cecilie Fjellhy, a Norwegian student studying in London who hooked up with Hayut on the dating app. In their first conversation, he said that he would be departing for Sofia, Bulgaria, the following day, but still wanted to get together for coffee that evening. In what seemed to be Hayut’s private plane,

Fjellhywas, and Hayut were off to Bulgaria in a matter of hours. As any normal person would be, she was taken aback by his lavish lifestyle, his thoughtfulness, his focus on her, and the instant connection she felt with him.

Fjellhy is “love-bombed” (a term for when someone lavishes another with love, attention, affection, and lavish gifts in order to gain their trust and then manipulate them) and falls completely head over heels for Hayut, who’s conveniently not around much due to the supposedly dangerous nature of the position he has working in the diamond industry.

Eventually, Hayut’s lack of interest leads to complete ghosting, but not before Fjellhy “borrowed” $250,000 and finds herself in debt. The credit card company sent representatives to her house to investigate the incident, and it was only then that she learned the truth: the agents recognized Hayut and informed her that he did this for a living–he was a grifter. 

To put it simply, dating Hayut (or Leviev, or any of the other different aliases he’s gone by) is everyone’s worst nightmare. According to the documentary, he has bilked women across the world out of an estimated $10 million, and he has only served a brief time behind bars (he is presently free) for his scams against some of the women.

Have you ever worried that a date you met online was really a con artist? Sometimes the lines blur, and scammers are so skilled with their techniques that you don’t know you’ve been had until it’s already too late.

If you want to avoid falling victim to a Tinder Swindler’s playbook, here’s how to spot red flags on dating apps!

How to Spot A Tindler Swindler on Dating Apps

No matter where or how you meet prospective dates, you can end up with an unsavory character. The good news is that these con artists tend to follow a very standard script, both online and in person.

You can benefit from The Tinder Swindler‘s example and take precautions by keeping an eye out for these glaring red flags!


Red Flag #1 – They Exaggerate EVERYTHING

There are warning signs you should never overlook, even before swiping right. Con artists are egocentric liars who actually believe in their own lies.  They are so certain of their own delusions that they make those delusions obvious in their online dating app profile. It’s literally right in front of your face!

Billionaire successors don’t use Tinder, so avoid anybody who calls themselves the “prince of diamonds” (or a prince of anything, really) in their profile bio.  If Uber-wealthy men use dating apps at all, they use exclusive ones like Raya or The League, which have strict application and acceptance requirements.  

People who are very showy on dating apps are rarely as impressive in person. These individuals are likely to be shallow and immature, and despite their apparent wealth, they will likely want you to foot the bill on your first date. 

Are they posing in front of a Bugatti (or any flashy $100,000 car) in the dating profile pic? Swipe left and swipe left fast


Red Flag #2 – They Are Too Good To Be True

It goes without saying that if something is too good to be true, it usually is, but it’s worth repeating nonetheless. This isn’t just a trite saying or a tired adage from the olden days–this is a fact. 

You could definitely meet an attractive, funny, single person who you could someday end up falling in love with–a lot of people do–but if you fail to notice any flaws and they immediately confess their love for you, you should book it in the other direction. 

Scammers that target you with romantic overtures will shower you with attention and affection at the start of the romance in order to make you feel special and give the impression that you truly click.

This is just what The Tinder Swindler did, as he took his victims on expensive vacations and made excessively romantic gestures toward them. If you want to err on the side of caution, you may want to leave the “I was swept off my feet” and “love bombing” to the rom-coms and observe them from your couch. 


Red Flag #3 – Your Relationship Moves at Lightning Speed

Someone with malicious intentions toward you must act quickly to win your confidence, take what they want, and dip. The relationship has gone from zero to sixty in record time because of the love bombing and other incredible over-the-top dates that have both individuals up in the clouds. One of the documentary’s journalists describes this tactic as an “emotional con.”

After just one month of dating The Tinder Swindler, Hayut had Fjellhycase searching for flats in London (on a $15,000/month budget, yikes) so that they could move in together and have a family as soon as possible. 

His second girlfriend, Ayleen Charlotte, the one who would eventually assist Interpol in nabbing him, was also shopping for apartments in Amsterdam. He had no intention of really making any of these things happen–the trick was to keep the women’s attention until the money ran out, at which point he would move on to other prey.


Red Flag #4 – They Ask Intrusive Questions

While it’s OK to ask questions as you get to know someone, if those questions begin to border on or are outright intrusive, the red flags should be hoisted high.

It’s not always easy to see this red flag because of the natural back-and-forth that occurs at the beginning of any new relationship, but you should be on notice if you find yourself fielding an unusually high volume of inquiries. If the scammer keeps asking you about your prior relationships, they might be attempting to create a personality that would appeal to you. 

They may also be probing for responses to standard security questions. Your mother’s name, your first pet, your first car, your hometown, and so on. Do you think anybody cares what your mom’s maiden name was? RED FLAG ON THE DATING FIELD!


Final Thoughts

You’re not paranoid if you Google a stranger before meeting them in person, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you listen to your instincts, it’s not because you’re scared but because you’re trying to keep yourself safe

It’s wise not to trust someone who claims anything really outlandish–stop seeing them if anything seems off, even when you can’t quite put your finger on what might be off. 

Don’t let your emotions get in the way of your judgment; this is particularly important if a person you are dating begs you to take out loans for them because of a shakedown–even if you think that they are the “one.”

confused woman looking at phone with question mark background and a heart-shaped speech bubble with a surprised face emoji inside of it

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