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‘Tinder swindler’ faked being medic, conned his way into early vaccine – report

Shimon Hayut, who defrauded European women he met via dating app, said to tell staff at vaccination center he is a medical worker, received shot not yet available for his age group

Screen capture from video of Shimon Hayut getting a coronavirus vaccination injection, December 28, 2020. (Channel 12 news)
Screen capture from video of Shimon Hayut getting a coronavirus vaccination injection, December 28, 2020. (Channel 12 news)

An Israeli man who made headlines after he defrauded women on the Tinder app by claiming to be the wealthy son of an oligarch has allegedly pretended to be a medical worker to get a vaccination against the coronavirus while still not eligible to receive the shot, Channel 12 reported Tuesday.

Shimon Hayut, known as the “Tinder swindler,” posted a video to social media on Monday in which he can be seen apparently getting the injection as part of Israel’s mass vaccination program.

When the news channel questioned how Hayut was vaccinated when the shots are currently only being administered to medical workers, those over the age of 60 and at-risk groups, it was discovered that he allegedly misled staff at the vaccination center.

According to the report, Hayut, 30, arrived at a vaccination center operated by the Clalit health maintenance organization in the central city of Bnei Brak, where he lives. At first, he was denied inoculation as he did not qualify, but after hanging around the entrance he noticed a group of medical workers who arrived to get their shots. Hayut apparently tagged along, allegedly claiming to be a paramedic.

In the rush to administer the vaccines, no one checked his credentials and Hayut was given an injection, posting a video of himself getting the shot to his Instagram account.

The vaccination center later told the outlet that he had presented himself as a paramedic. Clalit said in statement that medical workers will now be required to show identification before they receive the vaccine.

“The person was vaccinated after he presented himself as a medical worker,” the health organization said. “As soon as it became clear that it was an impersonation, we began to investigate the incident, including refreshing instructions on the matter. It is regrettable that there are people who are harming the trust shown by staff and we condemn this act.”

According to reports, some health providers have been openly immunizing young people, with no regard for rules mandating that apart from special cases, only people over the age of 60 should get the shot. However, this was the first time an individual was accused of deceiving medical staff over eligibility.

Israel is currently deploying the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which requires a follow-up shot a few weeks after the first injection.

It was not clear if Hayut would be able to get the second injection to complete his vaccination, or if his antics had any impact on the terms of his early release from prison this year.

Shimon Hayut, the so-called ‘Tinder swindler,’ is expelled from the city of Athens, Greece, on July 1, 2019. (Tore KRISTIANSEN/various sources/AFP)

Hayut claimed to Channel 12 that he is at risk from the virus due to medical conditions he has, but a check by the station with the HMO revealed he has no such ailments. It was unclear how an individual’s private medical information could be confirmed.

Hayut also threatened to sue the medical center.

“I am not someone who waits in line or at places,” he told the station in a phone interview. “With all due respect, I will not sit and wait 3-4 hours. I am not someone who waits and no one can say a word about it.”

Rejecting the HMO’s claim that he had pretended to be a medic, Hayut said it was “a lie.”

“I am a businessman,” he said, “I have money. I can buy anyone or anything that I want.”

When asked if he had paid to be vaccinated, Hayut responded, “Let’s say yes. I had an appointment [to be vaccinated], perhaps there was a bug in the computer. This is a third world country, after all.”

The convicted fraudster then went on to claim that he had helped bring vaccines into the country, although apparently did not elaborate on how.

Hayut was imprisoned in December 2019 after he was found guilty in a plea bargain of defrauding women he met online out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was released earlier this year after serving five months of a 15-month sentence, reportedly as part of a program aimed at reducing the prison population amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak among inmates.

Hayut had twice fled to Europe to escape charges in Israel.

He was arrested in 2019 in Greece for using a fake passport after a joint operation between Interpol and Israel Police and was extradited to Israel, after fleeing the country in 2017 to avoid trial for various fraud-related offenses. During that period, he roamed around Europe, presenting himself as Simon Leviev, the son of Russian-Israeli diamond mogul Lev Leviev. He used the dating app Tinder to contact women as Leviev and tricked them into loaning him money that he never repaid.

He had previously been charged in Israel with theft, forgery and fraud in 2011, for cashing stolen checks, but fled before sentencing. He was convicted in Finland for defrauding women and was returned to Israel in 2017, but fled the country again.

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