“I think it was the combination of that vulnerability coupled with the grandiosity of what it was she was trying to do,” said Williams. “She could be sort of hard to read and she was definitely one of a kind.”
Netflix’s dramatic retelling of her friendship with the fake German heiress retold the true story of Delvey sticking Williams with a $62,000 hotel bill in Morocco. What the show didn’t get right though, was Delvey’s angry outburst at the hotel’s management.
“What was more alarming was that Anna was cool as a cucumber and didn’t register the risk,” Williams said. “Normal people have alarm bells going off… but she just shut down.”
Once they returned to New York City, Delvey kept promising to set things right, but continued to do nothing. After being put in touch with Delvey’s fake accountant, Williams had enough and went to the police.
“I was up late with panic attacks like ‘I’ll never get out of this debt,’” said Williams. “She (knew) she put me in an incredible precarious situation. Who would do that to a friend?”
American Express eventually forgave William’s $62,000 debt, saying she was the victim of fraud. The American legal system, however, did not find Delvey guilty of scamming Williams. She was found guilty of other scams and served just under four years in prison. She is currently incarcerated in New York state and is fighting deportation to Germany.
She matched with him on Tinder while in London and felt an instant connection on their first date. Over the next few months, Ayleen Charlotte quickly fell in love with a man she believed was her soulmate but was unaware he was swindling women across the European continent.
“He’s like a chameleon,” she told the hosts. “He immediately adapts to you and makes you feel like you have met your soulmate.”
Simon Leviev (real name Shimon Heyada Hayut) created an elaborate story about being the wealthy son of a diamond mogul, providing fabricated evidence of a family that wasn’t his and enemies that didn’t exist. He reinforced the lies to Charlotte and others by sending them bloody photos of himself, claiming he had just been attacked by an enemy of his family and needed money to get to immediate safety.
“I was so shocked. I was like ‘This is real,’” she said. “Now I know the real story. He got into a fight in a club, and someone broke a bottle over his head and that’s it.”
“Once you’re in (the situation) too, you start to create justifications in your mind because you’ve created a level of trust,” said Pinkett-Smith.
After dating for over a year, Charlotte finally saw an article exposing Leviev as a fraud. By then she had been swindled out of over $100,000. The worst part for her, was the emotional betrayal of her boyfriend and soulmate.
“But you were smart enough to figure it out and get revenge,” said Willow Smith.
While visiting him in Prague, Charlotte offered to sell his designer clothes and wire him the money. As someone who worked in the fashion industry, she knew how much his clothes were worth, and as she told the hosts, they were the only real thing about him.
Charlotte left Leviev in Prague with one pair of pants, two t-shirts, a pair of underwear and a pair of shoes while she sold his Gucci, Versace, and other name brand clothes to try and regain some of the money she had lost to him. It took her over a year and a half to rebuild her life, while Leviev only served five months in prison for swindling an estimated $10 million from women across Europe.
“These stories played out in the media in such a big way, it’s so easy to say, ‘I wouldn’t have fallen for that,’” said clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula, who serves as the podcast’s psychological expert. “We need to stop shaming the survivors and recognize that not only would any of us be vulnerable, but every time we judge them, we further embolden the perpetrators that engage in these scams.”
Listen to every detail of Williams and Charlotte’s stories on “Tinder Swindler and Anna Delvey Victims: What You Haven’t Heard.” New episodes of Red Table Talk are available weekly on the iHeartRadio app, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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