With a focus on three individuals, the recently released documentary shows how the elusive con artist Simon Leviev hooked victims through Tinder and used emotional manipulation to fund a fraudulent luxury lifestyle.
Now, a new segment of the You Can’t Make This Up podcast has revealed the sheer scale of Leviev’s deceit, providing interviews with previously unheard victims.
Led by documentary director Felicity Morris and producer Bernadette Higgins, The Making of a Swindler aims to show the intricacies of Leviev’s con, how it continued for so long, and the identities of those who helped him.
Describing Tinder as a “game” that many people play, the podcast first introduces “Lucy” – another victim who connected with Leviev via the dating app in January 2018, whilst he was already dating two subjects from the Netflix documentary.
When she first matched with him, Lucy says she was “curious to know how he was able to become so rich, so young” and a quick Google search seemed to prove his story “aligned”.
Unlike the victims showcased in the documentary, Lucy said that her first date with Leviev was not an intimate affair and that several other individuals were also present. Though this may have made things less romantic, she added: “The fact he had young women working for him [made her] feel safer”.
After criticising her appearance, Lucy says she left the date with no intention of seeing him again until he contacted her the next day to apologise. Arranging to take her shopping for an “elegant” dress in preparation for a second date, Lucy was bemused when he proceeded to purchase multiple items of clothing from Gucci, only to find her a dress in street retailer Zara.
Describing Lucy’s experience as a “textbook example” of how Leviev altered his con for different victims, Morris went on to explain how his “supporting cast” – including security guard Peter and business partner Avishay – helped to build his credibility.
While a security expert said that it is possible Peter didn’t know who he was working for and that many bodyguards neglect to carry out their “due diligence”, the same could not be said for Avishay. The so-called associate would bolster Leviev’s credibility as a businessman and assist in pressuring victims for money.
One associate who agreed to an interview was Leviev’s chauffer Jamal, who had no knowledge of his employer’s true identity or his crimes.
“Simon is very charismatic. You want to hang around with him every day,” he said. “He would drill himself into your heart and make you feel like you’re special. Then he stabs you and leaves you.”
Morris and Higgins also attempted to contact the con artist himself, indicating that Leviev had initially shown an interest in featuring in the documentary until he realised it would focus on the victims. A “cat and mouse game” ensued, with Leviev threatening legal action and insisting that his victims were lying.
The podcast also goes on to detail Leviev’s apprehension in 2015, under the alias of Mortdecai Depero. Having scammed over £100,000 from three women in Finland, Leviev – whose real name is Shimon Hayut – was subsequently sentenced to three years in prison for aggravated fraud.
Providing some insight into Leviev’s character while he was still operating under the name Shimon, was a former co-worker named Courtney. Calling him “good fun”, Courtney stated that he would frequently concoct new money-making schemes.
Going on to describe herself as “patient zero”, Courtney said that Leviev convinced her that he was the son of a wealthy Israeli family and agreed to be his assistant. Quickly, she found herself embroiled in trouble with the police after using a number of credit cards given to her by Leviev. After spending three weeks in prison, Courtney says she realised Leviev was deceiving her after he fled the country.
The final episode of The Making of a Swindler debuts on February 16.