The Tinder Swindler (2022) is a Netflix documentary with a pretty self-explanatory name. In it, several victims recount their experiences with Shimon Hayut, a criminal that faked his way into the lives of many women using the forged identity of diamond empire heir Simon Leviev. He’s believed to have scammed around $10 million in loans from multiple women from different countries—he’s not your average Tinder fail. He always followed the same strategy: matching with a stereotypically beautiful woman, luring her with money and fun times, telling her she’s the love of his life and planning a future together. When things got serious, he would always pretend his “enemies” from the diamond industry were on the lookout for him, meaning he would have to stop all financial operations and depend on cash. He would always make up crazy stories to convince women of taking loans and giving him money—always talking about his life depending on these generous acts. However, he would spend it by winning the next victim over with traveling and expensive dinners, just like a scheme.
These poor women thought they had achieved a way to experience what social media like Instagram and TikTok glamorize: yachts, money, parties, travel… but at what expense? I think it’s important not to attack his victims, calling them stupid or gold-diggers. The life Shimon promised is that we are told to want; we are expected to prefer luxury over work. With this article, I want to go over some red flags that we should always have in mind when meeting someone from a dating app. I will be using examples from Netflix’s documentary to highlight the importance of being safe rather than sorry. There may be a reason behind them being too good to be true, which is why you should keep the following in mind.
Listen, we all can fall fast for someone; it’s normal. However, if they say the L word only after a couple of days or even weeks, that’s too intense. They might want to lure you into liking them, in other words, lovebomb you for their own interest. Licensed therapist Sasha Jackson describes this term as “excessive attention, admiration, and affection with the goal to make the recipient feel dependent and obligated to that person” (Cosmopolitan). Looking at The Tinder Swindler, that’s precisely the first step Shimon would take with every tinder match: pulling his victims into his made-up fantasy with L bombs.
THERE’S A LOT OF MONEY INVOLVED
Don’t get me wrong, there might be a population of wealthy people looking for something casual or serious on dating apps; but that’s not typically the case. Don’t let a stranger spend too much of their money on you unless you can verify its source—you don’t want to be involved in anything illegal. Even though we all idealize the sugar baby lifestyle, it might not be safe sometimes. Google them thoroughly, make sure you contrast multiple sources that corroborate their identity.
Do they always depend on you? Not only emotionally but economically? That’s one of the most significant red flags from the documentary: why would a wealthy man need an ordinary girl to send him money? His victims, already having very strong feelings for him, would justify lending him money with the narrative of “I’m the one he reaches out for help, he loves me.” Even though it might be hard to catch, it’s important to identify early signs of this toxic trait. If their mood, affection and feelings for you depend on how you comply with their favors, that’s a red flag.
THE WORLD REVOLVES AROUND THEM
This is an obvious one but is unbelievably present in Shimon’s story. Do they show interest in listening to you? Do they ask you how your day went? Or do they just talk about their life and their issues? Communication should be a two-way street; it’s not worth it if you don’t feel heard.
DON’T ALWAYS BELIEVE THEIR VERSION OF THE STORY
Do you feel like they get snappy and protective when you try to explain your side of the story? Are they willing to understand your feelings? Sometimes, your happiness might be in the way of someone trying to take advantage of you. You might notice them gaslighting you, bringing it up, and then feeling neglected when they tell you you’re crazy for feeling how you do. However, you’re your own person and have the right to disagree. Shimon kept trying to persuade his victims to believe him even after they found out about his criminal record, which goes to show how some people are just compulsive, manipulative liars. It doesn’t need to go to that level, but it’s important to keep in mind that our opinions are valid.
Even though these might seem obvious things to avoid in a possible dating app match, some people might be carried away by the image they create of their idealized partner. Furthermore, it’s important to validate how Shimon’s victims were unable to see these red flags—they had been lovebombed, gaslighted, and tricked into love. It’s hard to identify these negative traits when we think of someone so highly, which is why it’s essential to check in with ourselves and have our best interest at heart (even though it might mean saying no to that hot rich person).