The Tinder Swindler victims have started a GoFundMe and their goal is £600K

Spoilers for The Tinder Swindler
In somewhat inevitable news, the three victims of the Tinder Swindler featured in the popular Netflix documentary have started a GoFundMe account to recoup some of their losses. Ayleen Koeleman, Cecilie Fjellhøy and Pernilla Sjoholm have an official fundraising page where they acknowledge that there are better causes but say they are grateful for the support, both monetarily and financially.

You’re probably here because you’ve heard about our story, and we appreciate you taking the time to search and find this page.

The past few days have been a whirlwind, and we three (Ayleen, Pernilla and Cecilie) have been completely shocked and floored by the flood of compassion and support from everyone. The sheer love is more than we ever expected, and we appreciate you all so much.

After careful consideration, and many chats, we have decided to start this GoFundMe fundraiser. So many people reached out to us asking if we had one, and it hadn’t occurred to us to make one prior to this. However, we’ve spotted plenty of fakes, which makes us uneasy. We don’t want more people getting defrauded.

We realise there are a thousand other worthy causes to donate to, and remain forever grateful if you choose to donate to this one. All we want are our lives back.

Backstory:Shimon Heyada Hayut (who came to us under the pseudonym and fake personality of “Simon Leviev”) and his team of professional con artists, have defrauded all three of us for large sums of money.

If you have the opportunity to help we are forever grateful, but knowing that you’ve even checked out this page in solidarity means the world to us.

Best wishes,

Ayleen, Pernilla and Cecilie

[From GoFundMe]

As of publication this morning these three women have raised over £83,000. While I don’t consider them a particularly worthy cause, I also don’t begrudge them using their fame like this. This was very gracious and well written and I feel for these women. They were brave to come forward and go public with their stories and are just doing what they have to in order to rebuild their lives. They’ve also surely helped so many other victims.

One criticism I’ve seen of this series is that it doesn’t address the issue of coercive control and abuse. There’s an excellent episode of the podcast Reality Life with Kate Casey featuring an interview with Debra Newell, the woman who married John Meehan aka Dirty John. Newell explained how the narrative around her case left out the way that she was manipulated and controlled by Meehan and how she was legitimately afraid to leave him. In the Tinder Swindler, we saw a small glimpse of this in the threats Simon made to Pernilla over the phone. Considering all the “security” he had around him and how he could easily travel anywhere and knew everything about these women, they weren’t just giving him money for love. As Ayleen explained, many were worried for their safety.

The conman known as Simon Leviev may have started another Instagram account. His main account was made private and then closed last Sunday. Outlets have screenshots of an Instagram story from a now-closed account called shimon_hayut_officialnetflix. It criticizes these women and sounds like it came from him. [via The Independent]. Of course this creep loves the attention and I hope that every post he’s making is incriminating him in a future case.

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66 Responses to “The Tinder Swindler victims have started a GoFundMe and their goal is £600K”

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  1. Lainey bug says:

    I think it’s so cool they all banded together and came forward.

  2. Denise says:

    I will donate. Wishing them all the best

    • H says:

      I watched the documentary after I read the article here on CB. I felt so sorry for Cecilie and Pernilla. Pernilla was just a friend to the con man but even he was able to get money out of her.

      Coming payday, I will be donating. These women are extremely brave coming forward and facing ridicule by exposing this idiot. They put Simon on blast and hopefully no one will be scammed by him anymore.

    • ZanBee says:

      Umm, why would I help rich people get their money back?!?

      $600,000 sterling is equivalent to $815,000 USD. I don’t even have close to that much money to loose, let alone spend it on some tinder date!

      In my view, this is the equivalent of Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme on those rich NY businessmen and actors.

      • Sue E Generis says:

        I agree, not sure why they can’t learn from this and take the loss? There are far more urgent, worthy causes. They don’t seem to be wanting.

      • Kitten says:

        TBF, one of the women took out a shit ton of loans to help this guy. It was actually infuriating and painful to watch her go into unimaginable debt for this bottom feeder. Now she’s stuck with predatory lenders going after her.

        Watched this doc last night and still have 30 min left or so but I can’t get past how gross this guy is. Like, I’m largely sympathetic to his victims but I still remain utterly confounded as to why they were attracted to him in the first place beyond his money and lifestyle. If I ever met that guy or even saw him on Tinder, I would run so far in the opposite direction…..

        And I don’t mean that to blame the victim, just surprised at what some women find appealing..

      • Jess says:

        Yea, this is tough. I feel bad for these women, I appreciate that they acknowledge that there are more worthy causes, and we can all fight about which causes are the “most worthy” of donations, and yet…it still feels odd to donate to these women when they’re all pretty privileged.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ Kitten, I agree with you on the looks department. I would pass on him no matter the riches.

        Though I have empathy for them, I have other causes that are much more worthy.

      • Billie says:

        They are not rich. Watch the doc before you have opinions about it.

      • Ry says:

        I’m of the same sentiment. So they’re asking money because someone else asked them for money? So do I get money because I didn’t give him anything?
        I do feel for them but at some point just eat it and learn the lesson.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        It’s financial security. That is what they were after and admitted it. “The full package.”
        I would have run from those boastful profile pics and if I didn’t, the begging for money would have had me fleeing.

        I won’t donate because this is their fault. They can dig themselves out with the movie and promotional for this story. They’ll be fine without taking handouts.

      • Trillion says:

        Anyone here talking about these women somehow deserving getting ripped off, I assume, has not watched the doc. Please watch it before you judge. It’s probably way different that what you’d assume from seeing headlines.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        I’ve watched it in full. And I’ve read the follow up articles.
        There were many moments in the beginning where you think the women (specifically the lead because she was interviewed the most) are only going after the best matches on paper. Handsome with wealth and a Jet set lifestyle. I never thought they were after love, but rather love attached to the man with looks and money.

        The lead (C) got love bombed. I feel for her there, but not with the loans and crazy stories she was told. She bought into it when her better instincts were pushed down. Why? We can’t say, but I think it falls down to chasing that love bomb rush with a man she thought was incredibly wealthy and wanted to marry her after weeks of dating mostly by WhatsApp.

        And I’m not here judging without experience. I dated via apps. Some men will ask for money. You always refuse. Whole articles for years have been written about how to protect yourself from this. The apps put out newsletters how to protect yourself and make you agree sometimes before starting a chat to never give money. Mine did. I also think that if you’re on an app looking for marriage and you haven’t found it after years maybe stop looking at the same type of guys.

        And why did no one bring up why he never went to his billionaire “family” for the money since it was for “business.”

        C is really sweet, but naive and I don’t believe love can be found when you’re prioritizing the appearance of looks and wealth above your own common sense.

  3. Noki says:

    And what about Neflix ? This show has to have gotten a million views by now,did they give them any type of payment?

    • Twin Falls says:


    • Bettyrose says:

      Yeah WTF? Did Netflix swindle them too? Well, surely they’ll get book deals. Lifetime movies. Per wiki (the closest I’m gonna come to watching this) this is the “Jaws of documentaries on dating app swindles.”

      • Noki says:

        However i just figured that Netlix probably only gives a nominal fee to unknown subjects. They have no gurantee what will catch the viewers interest. I dont think these ladies had any negotiating power for a back end deal.

        * Like Squid Games,after the success the creator has the power,his initial deal was peanuts.

      • MelOn says:

        What??? I feel bad for them but it’s not Netflix’s job to bail them out. Someone produced and made the documentary and then SOLD it to Netflix. So who ever that was should have made a deal or they should have asked for a deal regarding payment after the documentary was sold. Amex knows that they were swindled and did NOT forgive the money, so why should Netflix fix it?

      • bettyrose says:

        MelOn – I haven’t watched and don’t know the details, but doesn’t Amex usually have fraud protection? Or did the amount exceed their fraud protection limit? Or worse, does it not come under fraud protection if the card wasn’t stolen?

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        Betty Rose
        She could argue fraud, but she participated in the fraud. Simon needed her to tell Amex she was the one using the card and traveling. She called Amex and lied to them.

        What is worse for her is she needed more money so she got any loan from any lender online that she could. He wasn’t paying off her debt like he promised and she kept taking out loans.

    • MY3CENTS says:

      My first thought as well.

    • Anony83 says:

      Probably not. (Sorry if your question is facetious). But participants in documentaries largely go unpaid. Interview-ees particularly.

      Since the women presumably have some kind of producer or writer credits (I hope) maybe they have some percentage of the back end but probably not a ton. That’s why a lot of documentarians really depend on public foundations and awards shows for funding.

    • Mindy_DeLaCalle says:

      Although Netflix didn’t have a GUARANTEE that this would become as viral as they did – they obviously had data supporting the project in the first place – they could have projected how well it would do and throw the girls A LITTLE something – at the very least to recoup their losses. AT THE VERY LEAST – they literally just increased their subscription charges. They have enough money to meet their GoFundMe and should donate RIGHT NOW. Let’s start that hashtag – NetflixSwindler.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        @ Mindy_DeLaCalle, I agree! Netflix would have passed on this documentary UNLESS it made them money!! That’s what business is about. They aren’t going to produce content that isn’t a good fit for viewership and revenue.

      • TEALIEF says:

        +++ Netflix. I agree with @Mindy_DeLaCalle. It’s on my queue and the subscription rate went up. Ante up Netflix and help these women. BTW, Netflix did you pay Claire Foy? Not the promise to pay, did you and/or the producers actually pay her?

      • jade says:

        I watched the documentary. They gave the guy so much money becasue they thought he was loaded (and in a pinch due to security reasons). If he was just a regular Joe swindling them/asking for cash they both would have said NO. But he portrayed himself as a diamond company, jet owning billionaire. The women had dollar signs in their eyes and thought he was their lottery ticket.
        No, not donating

      • Damn says:

        That would be nice, but that’s not how it works. If they have any sort of agreement with the production company,RawTv, they’re getting their money. They likely don’t though.

  4. Ok says:

    The lady that got him to send her his clothes, then listed them on eBay and kept the money will be my forever heroine. I was actually cheering out loud for her and my husband thought I was nuts.
    I will donate, actually. I think they are brave coming forward and highlighting what happened and it serves as a good warning to other women.

    • dina says:

      Same here! I was yelling YASSS GIRLLLL, at my tv hahaha

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Now I am going to have to watch it!! I would like to see this and now I am curious and I am trying to keep myself away from looking this up and reading about it now.

    • superashes says:

      Me too. So often women get judged when they are the victim for not being more cautious, stories like this without that type of blowback are a good thing. It took a lot of courage for them to do this.

  5. Cee says:

    Last night I watched a miniseries titled “who pulls the strings” about an englishman posing as an MI5 spy and what he did to his victims (both male and female). One woman lost 10 years of her life and actually stopped responding to her name. He completely swalled her whole and destroyed her. Simon Leviev took his victims’ money but also their sense of safety and security. They believed he was as poweful and dangerous as he said he was.

    • Ocho says:

      ^^^Yes! This story is insane. It has been mulling in my head. I want other people to share my pain! Imagine if the magician/illusionist Derren Brown was evil.* This conman convinced one woman to live on the streets as a homeless person — she was not featured in the doc. One woman has never been found.

      The Netflix doc is called “The Puppet Master” and the crazy thing is that I read a book on him maybe 15 years ago when he was jailed and had no idea that he was since released and he has done it all over again. The Puppet Master guy was released bc he didn’t “physically” force his victims to do anything — he just brainwashed them. Just like the Simon Leviev situation, the law doesn’t know how to deal with mental coercion.

      To anyone thinking Leviev’s victims were simply suckers: nope. His cons were complex, involving a team of people to help him and sometimes people were in a relationship with him for a long time (romantic, friendship or business) before he pulled the con.

      *Derren Brown convinced an ordinary guy that it was the end of the world and he was living in a zombie apocalypse.

      • Mindy_DeLaCalle says:

        Ooh, that’s for the recommendation! I’ll add it to my list – the thought of someone brain washing you or just even convincing you that reality isn’t real – is one of my worst nightmares.

      • Cee says:

        LOL I just translated it from Spanish. Puppet Master makes more sense

        I felt really bad for Sarah. I really think it’s important to know where Sandra Clifton is.

      • Ocho says:

        @Cee: Ha! I didn’t even notice! (Silly me.) I was just so excited that someone else knew that disturbing story. Thanks for bringing up. I think the two docs work well as different kinds of conning and the inability of the law to do anything.

  6. ncboudicca says:

    I was so angry at that guy 30 min into it, that I almost stopped watching. I’m so glad I finished watching, if only to see the three women find each other and do what they could to stop this guy – and the nasty abuse that they’ve taken from the public, especially Cecilie when she agreed for all of her personal info to be used by the newspaper, was just extra upsetting for me. I’ll definitely give them a few dollars.

  7. mrsbump says:

    this took so much courage that i don’t begrudge the ladies trying to get something out of this, especially since they were so spectacularly failed by the police, that guy had been doing this for YEARS and if he had been caught earlier, he wouldn’t have destroyed their lives.
    However, Netflix should be ashamed that the victims have to open a gofundme to recoup some of their losses, the ‘tinder swindler’ is trending everywhere.

  8. Ohcomeon says:

    Seriously, with all the worthy causes out there, donate to your local domestic abuse shelter instead. They are on the ground, savings lives and teaching fiscal empowerment.

    • bettyrose says:

      I agree with you, but if someone watched this film on Netflix rather than going to a movie, paying for tickets, parking, and snacks, and this story in anyway touched you or educated you, giving these women part of your entertainment budget seems fair. But yeah use your charity budget to support other important causes.

      • Ohcomeon says:

        A big part of domestic/partner abuse is financial, as abusers control/deny access to finances. This is not an “other” cause, this IS the cause, and would have a direct affect on those suffering from DV by giving them opportunities to learn fiscal management and achieve financial independence from their abusers. Bailing these women out, who will now have access to opportunities to make money via their fame from this documentary, won’t help those still suffering.

      • superashes says:

        Well said bettyrose.

  9. Mindy_DeLaCalle says:

    Alright, I literally grabbed my laptop from my basement just to talk about this documentary more with you all. I was ready to be crass and pass judgement on these ladies here in the comments but when I think about it from the perspective of safety.. OK. I get it. I keep trying to put myself in their shoes and maybe it’s because I grew up in a border town and unfortunately that came with a lot of realizations of what people will do for money, but I was definitely in the camp of funny memes about how my credit wouldn’t have even passed the first loan and he would have dumped me. BUT — also – can we talk about how many times he drops the words ‘my enemies’?

    • Cee says:

      Same! Which is why he picks women from certain countries – their realities make them prey.
      He would probably never pick someone like me.

      • Mindy_DeLaCalle says:

        Right. He CHOSE these women. I wonder if he has a “test” or something that he uses to gauge the women he encounters.

      • sunny says:

        He probably targeted hundreds of women and was unsuccessful a lot of the time. Conning can be a numbers game- he targeted these women very specifically because they were vulnerable(and naive) and he was an excellent con man.

        I still side-eye a bit the first woman who hopped on a jet with him on a second date. i had to remind myself that he obviously was conning a very specific type of women. Con artists really understand their targets.

    • Cee says:

      I just remembered something – when I was 21 or 22 years old, I was studying in the US. I spent a weekend in Boston with a german girl. We were approached in the street by a woman who needed help – as in money – and would give us a saphire ring for whatever cash we could give her. I kept walking while the german girl stopped and listened to her and debated how much money to give her. I asked the woman why she wouldn’t go to a pawn shop and get more money than we, students, could give her, and she obviously ignored me and kept talking to the german girl about how much the ring meant to her because it had belonged to her sister and bla bla bla. The german girl gave her 30 bucks and refused to take the ring.

      This girl was so trusting and believed her while I knew it was a scam just by looking at the person, the ring and hearing her story. So yeah, our different backgrounds definitely played a part and I’m the person who overtips and buys breakfast for people waiting outside food stores. I learned how to recognise hungry vs. scammer.

  10. MoP says:

    I am glad they have a go-fund-me to help recoup their losses. I got swindled exactly one time by a con-artist (not for much $ and it was not romantic) and the shame I felt and still feel (How could I be so stupid? Why did I let that happen) kinda doesn’t go away. I was sick for weeks after it happened. So kudos to them for shining a light on this. I’ll be donating.

    • AppleCart says:

      Same here in 2016 I was in a very bad place mentally. And someone took me for a few hundred dollars. And I am still angry about it to this day. That I let someone act like they are helping me while I willfully handed my money over for the wrong reasons. I am beyond mad at myself for being so foolish at the time. I don’t mine they started the fund. If people want to donate they should. If they don’t want to they don’t. They will never ever get it out of Simon. If they can start with a clean slate financially they should. He put them through hell. And all they wanted to do was love and be loved.

  11. Mel says:

    Newsflash: Millionaires /Billionaires shouldn’t have to ask you for cash, take out loans or get credit cards in YOUR NAME for them to use. The thing that struck me is , he claims to belong to a family worth billions, why does he need your money? He sent fake bank drafts it didn’t enter anyones head that I’d he could send money that way, why couldn’t he receive it from his people the same way? I would have told him to call his Father.

    • milliemollie says:

      It’s always so easy to say that you would never fall for it and would know better than them. But you weren’t in their situation.
      He made them think his life was in danger, they were scared for him. They weren’t rationally thinking during that time, they were scared to death.

      • Mel says:

        I clutch my pearls and ask tons of questions if my HUSBAND asks me to fork over a large sum of money. I’m sorry, I’m a naturally cynical person and I would NEVER give someone claiming to be a millionaire who supposedly has a billionaire for a Father, my money, much less take out hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans. We’re all not the same and these types of people cultivate a type, they know who to pick on. I know it makes people feel better/ supported to think everyone would fall for it, but nope,everyone wouldn’t fall for it. I especially wouldn’t hop on a plane and travel with someone I knew for only a few days. Again, they know who to set heir traps for.

      • milliemollie says:

        He didn’t just ask them for money.

        He texts them in the middle of the night, sends them a photo of his beaten up bodyguard in an ambulance, tells them they barely managed to flee and their accounts are being watched to hunt them down.

    • AppleCart says:

      Keep in mind he groomed them for a year before he hit them up for money. By that point they were so in love. They would do anything to save him. And i’m sure he had plenty of reasons why he couldn’t get the money from his “Father”. And agree with other posts about his victim. He targeted a very specific type of woman. He would have swiped right past you if he thought he couldn’t swindle you.

  12. Cailin says:

    I’m sorry if there is a reason for this but I feel like I’m going slightly crazy… is “Tindler” in this article supposed to mean Tinder? I thought it was just a typo but it’s written that way multiple times so I’m wondering if I’m missing something!

  13. Luna17 says:

    This is on my watch list! Reading the comments Here I’m probably not going to donate to the go fund mes. It sucks they were targeted but these ladies took out loans for this guy?!!! Im a cheap Midwesterner who is driving my high school Corolla at 35 so doubt he would target me but that seems like poor judgment. My yoga teacher once told me most people are full of shit when and my god are those words of wisdom! Sometimes I think I’m too suspicious of people and find people phony but you can’t be too trusting in this world.

    • Kitten says:

      I KNOW. Like, objectively I can understand how they might find wealth and that jet-setting lifestyle really enticing. I can also understand how a really good con man (and believe me, this guy was REALLY good) could fool a woman. But it’s the money thing that gets me. One loan? Ok. MAYBE. But then another one when he hasn’t paid the first one off? And another? And another? I just cannot imagine any scenario in which I would fall for that.

      That being said, these women are really brave to just put it all out there and be vulnerable like that. I’m sure they’ve felt more shame and embarrassment than they ever deserve to feel. Because it was really clear that they loved this guy and it’s absolutely abhorrent that he preyed upon and exploited their love and essentially destroyed their lives.

  14. Ashley says:

    It was so good. And agreed it was a little like the Puppet Master, but more comedic. Puppet Master was just sad and slow.

    Isn’t it funny that none of his victims were American? With our endless credit, I would think he could have found someone, but not me because I can’t get a loan to save my life. I suffer from “no credit”. In Europe it’s supposed to be harder since they don’t have loans the way Americans do. I live in Paris and I think Europeans have to rely on the relationship with their banks. At least that’s what they say. I want to know how Cecile managed to get £250k in loans when she wasn’t even born in the UK. I really question her financials because most people in London don’t actually make that much money, so how was she making as much money as she did have in the beginning? And to get an Amex you need spectacular credit and good job. Maybe it’s different in the UK, but my ex had an Amex and worked in private equity. He made bank and still had flatmates.

    I also want to know since when does Amex send agents to your house??? They never said what Amex was investigating.

    Cecile was sweet and naive but I really hope Ayleen is living her best life. I identified with her the most. I don’t cry, I get even. I loved her. Pinella tho… who gives a friend that much money? Some guy you partied with in Greece??? The money for your house, the place you need to live? No friend would get my rent money, sorry not sorry.

    As for grubby Shimon, there are guys like him all over Paris Tinder and I always, always swipe left. Guys who flex, guys who take photos like that, I find them completely unattractive. A part of me knows those girls saw the money and that caught their eye. To say it didn’t is a lie. That behavior turns me off, that clearly turned them on. They didn’t deserve what happened to them, but no girl looking for a husband clicks on Mr. Private Jet, Gucci labels, and club photos. It so sleezy and gross. He’s not even cute. But I will say expensive clothes really elevates a man huh? Ugly as all get but slightly better when he was living the life. Still wouldn’t have swiped right tho.

    • Aurelia says:

      Spot on with your analysis. But I’ve lived in England. If you are willing to agree to obscene interest rates a shark will loan to you. If you default on an interest payment they will just send the boys from the east end goon squad to break your arm. It’s old school. Now when you run up £250,000 on Amex with no repayments you bet they make a house call. They suspect fraud and want to assess their ability to recoup and need info their insurer requires.

  15. Ishqthecat says:

    So very brave of the victims to come out and risk shame and ridicule by sharing their stories to help others. I have watched Tinder Swindler with my teenagers. Not that they use Tinder specifically (I very much hope not, as they are under age!) but I feel it is important for them to be taught that all people are not who they seem on-line.

  16. Gaah says:

    If you haven’t watched this doc then you don’t get the empathy a lot of people have for these women. I get they weren’t the brightest but if someone you love or care about and trust tells you that their life is in danger, you might help them. While looking at it from a distance, it looks convoluted but I can see why they fell for him as there were many other men and women who were scammed by him. There are dumber things on gofundme than this so if they want to raise $$ to help themselves, then why not? Plus they didn’t have to put themselves out there in the doc and embarass themselves. They did it to stop others from getting scammed by him.

  17. Anni says:

    I watched the show and wondered if the guy operated exclusively in Northern Europe? Anyway, I started to yell when the Norwegian girl agreed to board a private plane with a stranger after one date. Who does that? These ladies were so excited about bagging a millionaire so they closed their eyes for a bunch of red flags. I mean, the guy tells that he is the son of a millionaire but he can’t ask for help from his family? Ugh.

  18. Damien says:

    And who is getting you out of debt, they decided to go for looks and fame so they should pay their own mistake. Anyways whoever is donating they can do whatever they want with their money. Too many children going through hunger etc and who will bail them out? They didn’t ask for it. So i use my logical thinking.