The Tinder Swindler’s chauffeur says he ‘feels like a pig’ for enabling the scammer’s £7.4million con, admitting he thought the fraudster was ‘just another horny billionaire’.
Israeli playboy Shimon Hayut, then in his late 20s, lured in trusting women by claiming he was Simon Leviev, the son of businessman Lev Leviev, who has an estimated $1billion net worth.
He called himself the ‘Prince of Diamonds’, but in reality, Hayut was a serial fraudster who used his charm to prey on unsuspecting singleton using online dating apps, earning him the moniker the ‘Tinder swindler’.
The scam involved using a carefully curated entourage to add to the illusion of wealth and glamour – including a chauffeur based in London who drives high net worth clients around the city
Despite seeing countless women in Hayut’s company, the driver – who has not been identified and is using the name Jamal – had no idea of the fraudster’s true intentions, assuming he was just a ‘flamboyant rich kid’.
Speaking on the Making of a Swindler podcast, produced and presented by the director of Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler, Felicity Morris, Jamal said: ‘I feel like a pig myself.
The Tinder Swindler’s chauffeur says he ‘feels like a pig’ for enabling the scammer’s £7.4million con, admitting he thought the fraudster was ‘just another horny billionaire’
He called himself the ‘Prince of Diamonds’, but in reality, Hayut was a serial fraudster who used his charm to prey on unsuspecting singleton using online dating apps, earning him the moniker the ‘Tinder swindler’
‘Being involved in that scenery and encouraging Simon to do what he did. It’s had an effect on me. It’s not nice. It’s disgusting.
‘[I thought he was a] horny guy, just a horny, horney guy at the beginning. You would think he’s a rich kid just screwing around with everybody’.
While it’s unclear how many people fell for the scam, it is estimated that he conned victims all across the world out of £7.4 million.
He would shower women he met on the dating app with lavish trips and gifts, using money he had taken from other women. He would then ask for more money under the guise of needing to protect his identity due to security concerns.
Several dating apps have banned the fraudster known as the Tinder Swindler, after a documentary showed he used their services to contact women
The conman would use the money he acquired from other victims to impress single women with an expensive lifestyle and lavish gifts. It is unclear how many other people fell for the scam but it is estimated that he conned his victims out of £7.4 million
Jamal met Hayut while working London’s luxury circuit, admitting he thought Simon was simply a ‘flamboyant kid from a rich dad who wanted to enjoy life’.
‘I drive alot of high net worth clients’, he said. ‘Big names, big titles, they’re probably internationally known, could be in business could be a celebrity, could be almost anybody.’
The pair got on well, and everytime Simon was in London he would request Jamal to drive he and his business partner Avishay around in a Rolls Royce for three or four days at a time.
At one stage the scammer even offered Jamal full-time employment for £7,000 a month, but the job would never materialise.
‘You have to understand one thing, Simon is very charismatic, you want to hang around with him everyday’, said Jamal.
‘He’s a very nice man but Simon would drill himself into your heart and make you feel like you’re special and then he stabs you and leaves you’.
Jamal rememberers Simon staying at London’s swankiest hotels, spending thousands on luxury cars and says he could meet up with four or five women in one day.
Among Hayut’s victims was Norwegian graduate Cecilie Fjellhoy, who was living in London when she matched with Leviev – who Jamal remembered, describing her as ‘very innocent’.
‘He was such a nice guy’, said Cecilie, ‘which was comforting because I was telling him in the car, this is very overwhelming. I had never been in this situation and he was saying he had been his [Simon’s] driver for a long time, he was his regular driver to London.
Cecilie Fjellhøy (pictured, with Shimon Heyada Hayut) has teamed up with Ayleen Koeleman, and Pernilla Sjoholm, who featured in Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler, to launch a fundraiser
‘He was really positive towards Simon, how nice he was to people, which was really nice to hear at the start when you meet someone.’
Jamal met Cecilie on her first date with Simon, which involved a trip on a private plane to Bulgaria, and they would later exchange love notes over text, videos and voice messages.
Hayut told Fjellhoy that he had to travel constantly for work and that it was hard for him to visit her in London due to threats from working in the diamond business, it has been reported.
The conman first asked Fjellhoy to take out a line of credit for him in her name just four weeks into their relationship, claiming that it was a security measure due to threats against him.
He spent the money on plane tickets, hotels and dinners that were booked under her name to throw off suspicious ‘enemies’.
Fjellhoy said Hayut promised to pay her back but, but as the weeks rolled by, her debt continued to stack up.
He was finally arrested in 2019 while using a fake passport in Greece, pictured. However, he only served five of his 15 months prison sentence
After three months, the relationship was all but over and Cecilie was told by her bank that the conman was under investigation for scamming other women. She had been conned out of £200,000.
‘He was hurting people’, said Jamal. ‘Hurting their finances, damaging them emotionally. He did that to me too.
‘The guy played an emotional part with me, promising me things that he never delivered. It’s disgusting. Why would anyone do that.
‘I’ll be honest sometimes I feel partly to blame, to allow him having that full picture of being something he’s not I do blame myself a little.
‘I kind of made him look and feel like the man, the boss. Had I known who he is I never would have got involved.’
Hayut was wanted for unrelated crimes and had been on the run since 2011 when he fled Israel to avoid charges for fraud, theft and forgery in his early 20s.
Hayut was eventually arrested and imprisoned in December 2019 at Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court. The Tinder scheme was not included in his charges.
However he was released the following May, after serving five months of his 15-month sentence.