One of the victims of the infamous Tinder Swindler has revealed the red flags to look out for to avoid love scams.
Ayleen Koeleman, was one of many women who was fooled into thinking Shimon Heyada Hayut, from Israel, was the son of a billionaire diamond merchant after meeting him on dating app Tinder.
The convicted conman would use the money he acquired from other victims to impress single women with an expensive lifestyle and lavish gifts – it’s believed in total he conned women out of around £7.4million in total.
Ayleen, who starred in Netflix documentary Tinder Swindler, revealed that one of the biggest red flags is ‘love bombing’ – a term referring to meaning to lavish someone with praise as a means of control.
‘I was an intelligent, internet-savvy young woman – and yet I was still heavily deceived. After all, victims believe that they are sending money to a loved one for a genuine reason, so they may not behave any differently as to how they would making any other transaction.
Ayleen Koeleman, was one of many women who was fooled into thinking Shimon Heyada Hayut, from Israel, was the son of a billionaire diamond merchant after meeting him on dating app Tinder
Ayleen, who starred in Netflix documentary Tinder Swindler, revealed that one of the biggest red flags is ‘love bombing’ – a term referring to meaning to lavish someone with praise as a means of control
‘While it felt real then, looking back, I can see the holes. New partners aren’t like this, even if they are crazy about you,’ she told the Telegraph.
She added that signs that things might be too good to be true, and you should break contact, may involve declaring their love for you, bombarding you with gifts straight away.
She added that they might ‘claim to be from your town’ but never want to meet in person or plan visits – only to cancel last minute.
While dating apps have cracked down on fake profiles, and tightened security, Ayleen said that it’s very easy for people to make a fake profile.
She added to ‘take your time’ when someone asks to borrow money.
‘Once under their spell, fraudsters make you think irrationally. So if this new person in your life is asking for money, take a step back and say that you are going to think about it for a few weeks.
‘If they continue to push, then walk away and say no. If they’re a genuine friend or partner, they’ll happily afford you this time, as they’ll know that it’s a significant decision and commitment for you to make,’ she added.
Ayleen got the last laugh though, after teaming up with fellow victims Cecilie Fjellhøy and Pernilla Sjoholm to get their money back via GoFundMe.
Shimon (pictured) has deleted his Instagram and is no longer on Tinder, following backlash from the Netflix documentary
Cecilie Fjellhøy (pictured, with Shimon Heyada Hayut) teamed up with Ayleen Koeleman, and Pernilla Sjoholm, who featured in Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler, to launch a fundraiser
Shimon, who has been known to use pseudonyms, scammed Cecilie, Ayleen and Pernilla by claiming that he needed to borrow money because using his own funds could lead him to be traced by his enemies.
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.
Having received messages of support following the hit Netflix documentary, Cecilie, Ayleen and Pernilla, have set up a GoFundMe page with the hopes of raising £600,000.
Cecilie Fjellhoy was a 29-year-old Norwegian graduate student living in London, when Shimon conned her out of more than £200,000.
She believed that she had finally met her Prince Charming, when she matched on Tinder with ‘Simon Leviev’ in 2019.
He claimed to be a billionaire playboy and even took her on a trip using his private plane during their first date.
Shimon has never been charged for scamming Cecilie, Ayleen or Pernilla, but was jailed in Israel for use of a fake passport in 2019.
He was released after five months on good behaviour.
The serial fraudster, who is no longer on Tinder, had 200,000 Instagram followers before deciding to close his account following backlash from the Netflix documentary.
Shimon’s last message read: ‘Thank you for all your support. I will share my side of the story in the next few days when I have sorted out the best and most respectful way to tell it, both to the involved parties and myself. Until then, please keep an open mind and heart.’
I’m a relationship expert and these three dating app red flags will stop you being scammed
A relationship expert has revealed the three red flags to watch out for on dating apps to avoid falling victim to romance scams.
Paul Carrick Brunson, who co-hosts Married at First Sight UK and Celebs Go Dating, appeared on Lorraine this morning to help singletons navigate the online dating world.
‘I’m highly concerned about this,’ he said. ‘You have millions of people here in the UK and around the world who are being targeted by online scammers.’
Describing how easy it is to fall for a scam, Paul stressed how perpetrators often research all they can about their prospective victims ‘for months and months and months’.
After diving into their social media feeds, the expert said the team of scammers will then ‘figure out a script’ to con people out of money.
Paul continued: ‘The average person is losing between £10,000 – 15,000 for each one of these scams.
‘They get your trust and what they’re really trying to focus on are people who are going through some kind of emotional turmoil.’
He said scammers may specifically keep an eye out for people who are widowed or have lost someone special in their life.
‘They’ll reach out to you on a dating app typically and they’ll try to woo you in,’ Paul added.
He said there are three key ‘red flags’ to have on your radar should things progress with someone you’re chatting to online.
THEY TRY TO MOVE YOU OFF THE DATING APP QUICKLY
Another red flag to be aware of is someone appearing extremely eager to take the conversation off of the dating app.
Paul advised that this is ‘because a lot of dating apps today have safety structures’ – so getting you to a place with less safeguards is a priority for the scammer.
Relationship expert Paul Carrick Brunson has warned of the red flags to keep an eye out for when you’re using dating apps. Stock image used
‘They try move you onto email or move you onto a phone call,’ he explained.
Not only does this take you into a less regulated environment, but it feels like a step towards intimacy.
YOU NEVER SEE THEM
It may come as no surprise that scammers prefer to keep themselves hidden behind a screen.
So, if the person you’re chatting with is hesitant to meet up in person, alarm bells should be going off in your head.
Paul stressed that it’s a huge warning sign to look out for – after all, how could they love you if they ‘never want to meet you’?
Paul Carrick Brunson said that an increasing number of people are losing thousands in scams across the UK
THEY PROFESS HOW MUCH THEY LOVE YOU…EVEN THOUGH THEY’VE NEVER MET YOU
Paul said to be wary of anyone who’s coming on a little too strong after just chatting online or on the phone – as it’s a tried and true scammer tactic.
‘What they’re trying to do is they’re trying to woo you in deeper and they hit you with “well…I need some money”.
‘And there’s always a request for money but it just doesn’t come as “I need money”, it is “my son son and I are travelling and I’ve lost my credit card”.
‘They try to pull on those emotional strings…’
The relationship expert also urged everyone, regardless of context, to not send money to a stranger.
He added: ‘Any time you’re being asked for money… that is a big red flag. Never ever turn over money to someone you’ve never met. Anytime someone asks you for money…just say no.’