There is a fascinating new documentary on Netflix called “The Tinder Swindler.” The basic summary of it is that an Israeli man changed his name to Simon Leviev and told women he was the son of a diamond billionaire. That billionaire is a real person, and he does have a son, but it’s not the man who is the subject of the documentary.
He would meet women on Tinder and allegedly tell him that he was the son of this billionaire and begin to date them. For a couple of them, their first dates involved five-star hotels, private jets, fancy dinners, and other luxuries, all seemingly on his tab. The reality appears to be that he was telling elaborate stories of his life being in danger and getting these women to send him money, take out loans, give him credit card access, etc. One woman appears to be out around $270,000.00. All told, he is accused of swindling around $10 million from people all across the globe.
He did some jail time in Finland and Israel for fraud and I believe that if he were to come to the United States where he allegedly conned some people, he’d be arrested here too.
I’ve had phone calls from people looking for a lawyer who have been taken advantage of by romantic interests. Maybe not to this high of a level, but certainly in the five figures. They want to sue their now ex’s and ask me for advice.
While the Tinder Swindler subject is now a free man in Israel, and somehow apparently living a luxury lifestyle again and dating an Israeli model, if it was a similar person in Illinois, suing them would be a challenge.
I say that because you can’t stop a crazy person from being crazy and you can’t stop a scum bag from being a scum bag. This doesn’t mean that you can’t sue and can’t win, you probably can. What it does mean is that collecting against this type of person would be a challenge.
As a result, hiring a lawyer in this situation probably requires a victim to shell out money to an attorney without a guarantee of a recovery. If you just lost your life savings, do you want to spend another $5,000-$10,000 or more trying to get a judgment against someone you may never be able to collect from? Most people wouldn’t. And while it would be nice to find a lawyer willing to take this case on a contingency basis, most attorneys wouldn’t do that because they know that collecting from a thief is really difficult. It’s one of the flaws of our legal system.
And while I don’t know anything about civil lawsuits in Europe where most of this alleged activity seems to have happened, there is potentially one piece of good news. This apparent fraudster is on Cameo now and reportedly made over $30,000 creating messages in his first few days on the service. In Illinois, if you had a judgment against him you could probably put a lien against his Cameo earnings. Hopefully, it’s the same way over there.
The best advice I can give someone is to try not getting into these situations which of course is easier said than done. While we rarely see situations where someone gets tricked out of giving some more than $5,000 or so, we sadly quite often see them taken advantage of by agreeing to co-sign a loan for someone they think cares about them. I can’t emphasize enough how bad of an idea it is to co-sign for someone else and highly encourage you to never do that no matter how much you trust or care about someone. In my experience it ends badly so often that it’s just not worth the risk.