The Israeli fraudster at the center of the popular Netflix true-crime documentary “The Tinder Swindler,” spoke out on Monday about his alleged role in the documentary for the first time, claiming he “was just a single guy that wanted to meet some girls on Tinder.”
The nearly two-hour documentary directed by Felicity Morris tells the story of several women whose hearts and wallets were captured by Shimon Hayut. The con man presented himself as Simon Leviev, the son of Israeli Russian diamond tycoon Lev Leviev.
While refusing to interview for the documentary, Hayut broke his silence in an interview with Inside Edition.
“I was surprised how many girls wanted me and how many girls offered to travel to meet me without them knowing me,” he said. “I’m not this monster that everybody has created,” he added.
“I’m a legit businessman,” he said, denying any wrongdoing and claiming the women interviewed in the Netflix documentary “weren’t conned and they weren’t threatened.” He denied ever presenting himself as the son of Israeli Russian diamond tycoon Lev Leviev.
Asked how was able to fund his lavish lifestyle, he said he had bought bitcoin in 2011. “I don’t need to say how much it’s worth now.”
Hayut said he had no regrets.
“[Do] I feel bad for something I didn’t do? No, I feel bad for whatever happened to myself. I want to clear my name, I want to say to the world this is not true,” he said.
Coming to Hayut’s defense was Israeli model Kate Konlin, who is currently dating him.
She told Inside Edition that Hayut has never borrowed any money from her, referring to the documentary and the accusations it makes as “a fake story.”
Hayut said people should not judge him so harshly.
“I’m not a fraud and I’m not a fake. People don’t know me so they cannot judge me. I’m the biggest gentleman in the world,” he argued.
Hayut served two and a half years in a Finnish prison after being found guilty of defrauding three women. He also served 15 months in an Israeli prison after being convicted of four fraud charges, but was released after five months.
Following the documentary’s release on February 2, the three alleged victims of Hayut who shared their stories on the Netflix documentary — Cecilie Fjellhøy, Pernilla Sjoholm, and Ayleen Charlotte — launched a crowdfunding campaign, hoping to raise enough money to clear their debts.
Meanwhile, the original documentary has landed at the top of the streaming giant’s global weekly viewing chart, becoming the first documentary released by Netflix to lead the prestigious ranking.
Tinder, the dating platform that enabled Hayut’s activity, has banned the con man from the app.
Tobias Siegal and Jessica Steinberg contributed to this report.