Happily never after

“The Tinder Swindler” sheds light on career of a scammer

Perris Larson, Staff Writer

Cecilie Fjellhoy, Ayleen Charlotte and Pernilla Sjöholm are the three women focused on in Netflix’s new docuseries “The Tinder Swindler.” Here they are photographed on December 3, 2021 at Black Book, Soho in London. (Courtesy of Joshua Wilks/Netflix)

It was the perfect date. He was the perfect guy. It was almost too good to be true until it turned into a financial nightmare.

Based on a true story, Netflix’s film “The Tinder Swindler” shows how con-artists can take advantage of online dating sites, mess with women’s hearts and drain their bank accounts.

The mastermind of the entire charade, Simon Leviev, claimed to be an heir to the diamond empire LLD, drawing women in with private jets, fancy hotels and designer clothes.

Cecilie was one of Leviev’s victims back in 2019 and was instantly head over heels. Cecilie came across Leviev on Tinder, hoping she had found the man of her dreams. He took her on a private jet and paid for extravagant dinners. But he gained her trust in order to get control of her credit cards.

Leviev ended up conning $500,000 out of Cecilie. Now, she is still trying to repay those debts, and Cecilie is not the only victim of his schemes.

The documentary focuses on three women’s stories: Cecelie, Pernilla and Ayleen. After Leviev maxed out their credit cards, they worked together to give him the ultimate payback: publicity.

This documentary will entice audiences due to the compelling evidence for Leviev’s crimes showcased throughout the film. Even though he refused to be a part of the documentary, in a way, he was. Leviev’s own recorded phone calls and messages dug a hole for him that he could not climb out of.

But what was also interesting was how devoted he was to this role of a billionaire and how he had made a career out of it. He had been a fraudster since he was a teenager in Israel, so he had plenty of experience.

It was refreshing that no opinion had to be given, the facts told the story. The evidence was laid out in an effective way that allowed the viewers to judge the situation.

Dating is never perfect, and “The Tinder Swindler” made that abundantly clear. The documentary featured well-researched facts and claims, and it seemed that at every turning point throughout the film, a new plot twist added yet another layer to the narrative.

Leviev would use one woman’s credit card to pay for a trip he would take with another woman he was preparing to con. It was an endless cycle that he thought was foolproof, but his “victims” turned out to be heroes. The women saw a problem, personally felt the effects and then wanted to put Leviev’s scheme to an end.

The film shows that in some cases, the use of the media can have damaging repercussions. Leviev was a native of Israel and already had a warrant out for his arrest for the crimes he committed. However, he was not arrested until after the article had been published. Unfortunately, he was not charged with defrauding any of the women despite the evidence and is currently a free man.

While scams can be a huge deterrent for online dating, the documentary makes it clear that online dating can be a suitable way for certain patrons to find romance. “The Tinder Swindler” was not designed to portray online dating as regrettable. But cons can occur on all social media platforms—the platforms and the people in them get taken advantage of by criminals and fraudsters.

Tinder was never the problem, it was the people that choose to exploit Tinder that is to blame. Even after the events that unraveled with Leviev, Cecilie returned to Tinder, still hoping to find her Prince Charming.

This film is the perfect documentary for anyone interested in strong women, crime, investigative reporting and even failed romance stories. The story of Simon Leviev, no matter how fake it was, is one for the books. Now, it is on display for the entire world to see.

Swipe left on con-artists, but swipe right on “The Tinder Swindler.”

(Courtesy of Netflix)