“Simon has an aura about him, a real confidence,” Cecilie told media. “I had no reason not to believe him.”
What Cecilie didn’t realise was that, like many other women, she was being sucked into an elaborate scam.
Simon Leviev, whose real name is Shimon Hayut, was a fraud. He is now known as the ‘Tinder Swindler’, after a new Netflix documentary of that name.
Things quickly turned dark for Cecilie, as Hayut confided that a multimillion-dollar business deal was putting him in danger because of his powerful enemies.
He claimed he’d been advised to cancel his credit cards so they couldn’t trace him, and suddenly Cecilie was having to help him out financially.
“People say I was stupid, but I truly believed he was in danger,” she says.
At one point, Hayut sent her a video of him and his bodyguard in an ambulance after being attacked, and over the following weeks, he allegedly put her under pressure to let him use her American Express card and later to get out a $35,000 cash loan she would bring to him in the Netherlands.
It was only when her bank in London didn’t recognise a cheque for $700,000 that Hayut had given her that Cecilie started to see something was amiss.
By then she was deep in debt, having shelled out a shocking $352,000.
Her bank confirmed Hayut was being investigated for conducting the same scam on several other victims.
She discovered he had been sentenced to two years in prison in Finland in 2016 for embezzling $318,022 from three women, and was also wanted in Israel on cheque fraud charges.
“I almost crashed my car, feeling suicidal,” Cecilie admits. She was by no means the only one left feeling destroyed.
Pernilla Sjöholm, 35, had also met Hayut on Tinder and, while their relationship was platonic, she handed her new friend $47,600 after being fed the same lies.
WATCH: ‘Tinder Robot Reads Your Mind and Finds You True Love’
Cecilie and Pernilla found each other and appeared together in an exposé article about Hayut in the Norwegian newspaper, VG, in February 2019.
The piece prompted several other victims, including Ayleen Charlotte, to come forward, alleging to have been scammed by Hayut in a similar way.
Shockingly, it was claimed he’d been reported to police in at least seven countries.
In October 2019, Hayut was eventually caught out in Greece, where he was extradited to Israel and convicted of the historic fraud charges. He was sentenced to 15 months in jail. So far, he has not been charged with scamming Cecilie or Pernilla.
After serving just five months, he is now out of jail and, according to his social media profiles, back to living a life of luxury.
In February, Hayut tried to clear his name.
“I’m not a fraud. I’m not a fake,” 31-year-old Hayut said, denying
the documentary’s claims.
“They present it as a documentary,” he said. “But in truth, it’s like a complete made-up movie. I am not a Tinder Swindler.”
The latest issue of New Idea is out now.