A young Israeli woman came forward in a television interview on Friday as the latest victim of Israeli fraudster Shimon Hayut, known as the “The Tinder Swindler,” despite a popular Netflix true-crime documentary this year by the same name that documented his alleged systematic defrauding of romantic partners.
Iren Tranov, 25, from the southern city of Ofakim, told Channel 13 news that she had watched the documentary, but when Hayut reached out to her, he convinced her that the claims against him were lies.
“He went over with me every woman who had complained about him, and each one he told me how it was lies and he was right,” she told the network. “He doesn’t look like a criminal hunting for a mark.”
Tranov said she told Hayut that she wanted to replace her car. “He said ‘I’ll help you, we’ll order it and I’ll get you a car at a better price because I’m your boyfriend,’” she told the network.
According to Channel 13, Hayut told Tranov that he was a partner in a vehicle import company and would obtain a brand new BMW luxury car for her at a lower price than what could be found on the market.
However, Hayut demanded that Tranov transfer the money to him, and instructed her on how to take out loan after loan from various companies, similar to the tactics detailed in the documentary.
Tranov said she transferred a sum of some NIS 450,000 ($130,000) to Hayut over several days, and he handed her a different vehicle in the interim, saying he would work to obtain the one she wanted.
The vehicle turned out to be impounded and listed under someone else’s name, Channel 13 said. “The vehicle isn’t under my name, and I don’t have the money,” Tranov said.
Tranov said she demanded the money back from Hayut, but he stalled. Eventually, he gave her a cheque for NIS 450,000, but it bounced just a few days later. The check was signed by another woman, alleged to be another victim of Hayut.
Miri Friedman, a lawyer representing the second victim, said the stories were “identical.”
“He met [the second woman] on social media. After six months of dating, he asked her for a check as a deposit. He told her ‘It won’t be cashed don’t worry.’ She gave him the check, and he deposited it in [Tranov’s] account,” Friedman said.
“I thought the problem was that the car wasn’t under my name,” Tranov said. “When I saw the check bounce I realized I was in much bigger trouble.”
She said Hayut began to threaten her over the car she was still holding. During a court hearing on another case against him, Hayut claimed Tranov had stolen the vehicle.
“He knew he was ruining my life,” she said.
Hayut, now known to be the son of the El Al airline’s chief rabbi Yohanan Hayut, was at the center of a nearly two-hour documentary directed by Felicity Morris that told the story of several women whose hearts and wallets he captured. The conman presented himself as Simon Leviev, son of Israeli Russian diamond tycoon Lev Leviev.
Hayut would meet Scandinavian women on Tinder, lead them to believe he was the son of the fabulously wealthy Leviev and begin long-distance relationships with them, eventually bilking them out of large sums of money.
The events of the film end prior to Hayut’s sentencing and trial, as he was returned to Israel in 2017 to be recharged and sentenced, but assumed a different identity and fled the country.
Israel declared him a fugitive, and he was eventually extradited back in 2019, convicted, and sentenced to 15 months in prison. He was released after five months. He had previously served two and a half years in a Finnish prison after being found guilty of defrauding three women.
In April, it was reported that Hayut was wanted in Spain for a 2019 incident in which he allegedly presented a falsified Israeli driver’s license to police.