The Tinder Swindler
Amongst the hoard of men who think height is their most significant personality trait, Simon Leviev, a conventionally handsome, well-travelled man with a seemingly exciting life, was basically screaming "the one" to women who came across his Tinder profile looking for true love in what I like to call the "Black Mirror Era of Dating". The Tinder Swindler follows the journey of three victims of Simon Leviev, a Tinder conman who scammed women out of millions of dollars all across Europe.
Leviev professes to be a billionaire's son and heir to a diamond empire. His deception tactic is to make his matches on Tinder believe that he is a charming, wealthy and loving man, with whom these women can envision a future. He flies them out on private jets on the very first date to fancy European holidays, invites them to party with exclusive cliques, and basically induces them to believe in his status as a wealthy business tycoon. Soon, Leviev shows these women an outlandish side of his life, where nameless enemies are after him and he is narrowly escaping mortal peril. This game with women's sentiments comes to fruition when he asks them for substantial amounts of money so that he can ride out these dangers. The victims have no reason to believe that he is incapable of ever returning their money since they have already witnessed just how rich he is. So, they help him out with every penny they can gather and even take out loans.
Calling Leviev's victims gullible would be a very one-dimensional and superficial judgement without having any regard to how and why they behaved that way. The documentary does a great job at demonstrating how astronomical his deception was and allows the victims to reclaim the narrative.
Every interaction they had with him came with evidence of his wealth and Leviev's digital footprint corroborated his financial status. Just how deep would someone dig to find dirt on a person they desperately want to be the truth in an age where the possibility of ever organically meeting their soulmate is essentially zero?
Although repetitive after a point, it was an absorbing watch, not in the least because I am a true crime enthusiast, but also because as a twenty-something woman who has tried out online dating, I could see how a stroke of bad luck could lead to this awful life-changing experience.
The disappointing part of the narrative was seeing that despite being ultimately captured by the law enforcement, Leviev is leading life as a free man with grossly inadequate repercussions while his victims are still paying off the debt they incurred trying to "help" him out. The documentary succeeds in putting Leviev's name out in the world so that he cannot so easily keep tricking women who are simply looking for love. It also serves a word of caution for people on Tinder – in this post-dystopian hellscape of modern dating, maybe just stick to splitting the bill and don't give random people your money regardless of how dreamy they look.
Anupoma Joyeeta Joyee would love to know your horror stories of online dating. Email her at [email protected]