A woman has revealed how she was became the first victim of the ‘Tinder Swindler’ Simon Leviev, and was left facing years in prison after he conned her into using a stolen credit card.
Courtney Simmonds-Miller, 31, originally from Cambridge, met the fraudster back in 2008, when she was 19 and living in Cyprus with her grandparents.
Shimon Heyada Hayut, 30, from Israel, who operated under several aliases, including Simon Leviev, fooled women he met on Tinder into thinking he was the son of a billionaire diamond merchant before scamming them out of an estimated £7.4 million.
Speaking to the Sun, she said she was ‘100 per cent under [Leviev’s] spell’, and felt like the fraudster was her ‘soulmate in friend form’.
Leviev was exposed in the Netflix documentary The Tinder Swindler, released earlier this month, in which his victims shared their stories.
The convicted conman – who would pose as ‘Simon Leviev’, son of the billionaire Russian-Israeli diamond mogul, Lev Leviev – would shower women he met on Tinder with lavish trips and gifts, using money he had taken from other victims.
He would then ask for more funds under the guise of needing to protect his identity due to security concerns.
Courtney Simmonds-Miller has revealed how she was conned into committing credit card fraud by the ‘Tinder Swindler’ Simon Leviev,
Simon Leviev, who conned women out of an estimated £7.4 million, was exposed in the Netflix documentary The Tinder Swindler
Courtney was never romantically involved with him, but became friends with Leviev, then 20, when they worked together in a shopping mall in the coastal city of Limassol, selling hair extensions and curling tongs. The pair would socialise after work, going ice skating and to clubs and bars.
It was not long before Leviev started lying to Courtney. After a trip home to Israel, he told her he was a ‘secret millionaire’ who only been working in Cyprus because his wealthy father wanted him to learn the value of money.
Courtney Simmonds-Miller says she is sick of trolls branding Leviev’s victims ‘gold diggers’, and has pointed out that he conned her without ‘all the immersive theatre and money’
But, he said, he was now set to receive his inheritance, and was planning to open a business.
When Leviev asked her to become his personal assistant, on a salary that far exceeded what she could earn in the mall, she readily agreed.
But that decision is one Courtney is still regretting to this day, more than a decade on.
Falling for his seductive charm not only cost her thousands of pounds but implicated her in an international credit card fraud that put her in a cockroach-infested Cypriot jail.
After accepting the job, one of her first tasks was to hire a BMW for Leviev so he could turn up to business meetings looking impressively successful.
She hired the car in her own name, because he said he didn’t have an international driving license.
Leviev provided credit card details for the transaction.
However, it emerged the card had been stolen in Israel, and both Courtney and Leviev were arrested. After being strip searched, she spent three weeks in custody, describing the prison as ‘inhumane’.
‘The cell was disgusting, there were cockroaches everywhere. There were no doors on the showers or toilets and the loo itself was just a hole in the floor,’ she said.
Despite the pair having their passports confiscated, Leviev managed to flee the country – prompting police to tell Courtney she would face the punishment for his crimes.
‘It was horrific. He left me to take the fall for everything,’ she said.
It was a terrifying time. If found guilty, Courtney was facing seven years behind bars, though it was finally a turning point.
Even though Leviev maintained his innocence, calling her from a foreign number and promising to send a lawyer to help her case, Courtney knew she could never trust him again.
She told the Mail on Sunday: ‘I told him I didn’t believe a word he said any more. I said, ‘Please never call me again. You have ruined my life.’
‘He left me to deal with it all by myself. I couldn’t understand how he could do that to me.
‘I thought I knew him. I spent hours and hours of my life with him. The betrayal was heartbreaking.’
Leviev often posts images flaunting his lavish lifestyle on Instagram, showing off private jets and luxury trips
The family eventually paid more than £14,000 before Courtney was acquitted after two years.
Courtney, who said she ‘feels sick’ when she thinks about Leviev’s crimes, found out he had conned more women in 2019, when a friend sent a link to an article in VG, a Norwegian newspaper.
It was about a man who had scammed three women after meeting them on Tinder – and the photograph that accompanied it was instantly recognisable.
Cecilie Fjellhøy, and fellow victims Ayleen Koeleman, and Pernilla Sjoholm have set up a GoFundMe profile in the hopes of raising £600,000 after receiving a flood of support from sharing their story in the Netflix documentary.
He has never been charged for scamming Cecilie, Ayleen or Pernilla, but was jailed in Israel for use of a fake passport in 2019 in Greece. He was released after five months on good behaviour.
Meanwhile, his victims have received a backlash for trying to raise money to rebuild their lives.
But Courtney said she hates to see the victims who’ve had their live ruined being branded gold diggers, saying: ‘I’m living proof that his spell doesn’t need all the immersive theatre and money to work.’
The fraudster, who posed as the son of a billionaire diamond merchant to con women he met on Tinder out of an estimated £7.4 million, now reportedly wants to ‘crack Hollywood’
Meanwhile, Leviev is continuing to make headlines, with the recent news that he is planning to use his newfound fame to crack Hollywood.
Celebrity site TMZ reported that sources close to the conman say he wants to write a book, host a dating podcast and has even pitched a controversial new TV show, which would see women competing for his love.
Helping him with his entertainment career will apparently be former pornographic-film actress Gina Rodriquez, the CEO of talent management company Gitoni.
With the help of his new manager, TMZ reports Hayut has pitched an idea for a dating show where women compete for his love, along with a podcast where he shares the dos and don’ts of dating.
Leviev has never been charged for scamming the women, but was jailed in Israel for use of a fake passport in 2019 in Greece. He was released after five months on good behaviour.