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The Tinder Swindler

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2022

‘…The Tinder Swindler, like the man it takes inspiration from, plays on the worst aspects of human emotion; this is TV as a freak-show…’

If you take a swatch at the top ten on Netflix at any given time, it’s a wonder why anyone would subscribe to it at all; a mix of salacious crime docs, bad Adam Sandler movies, straight-to-landfill tv fodder and general cinematic swill, it’s lazy, cheap, lowest-common denominator stuff. And yes, I get that Netflix also provide a platform for wonderful, worthy fare like Tick Tick Boom, Apollo 10 ½ and more, but such high-brow, prestige product seems to instantly sink without trace on their own top ten.

What Netflix have found a niche with is their range of documentaries and dramas about crime and specifically fraud; audiences seem to enjoy guzzling down horror stories about the outside world. Inventing Anna has been a huge hit, and Felicity Morris’ documentary The Tinder Swindler seems to have made a similar impact; there are now plans to create a drama series based on the exploits of Shimon Hayut, an Israeli man who convinced women he met online that he was the heir to a billionaire diamond dynasty. One after the other, his victims describe how awe at his obscene wealth gave way to love or friendship, and then to outrage when it transpired that Hayut was actually using their money to finance his next round of seductions…

Hayut is suing Netflix, although with so much damning information detailed in the court-cases that followed, it’s hard to see how he can possibly win. But The Tinder Swindler is also a talking point in that at least three victims came forward to disgrace Hayut, and ended up facing the wrath of a cabbage-chucking couch-potato audience with little sympathy for them. While the victims certainly didn’t ask for the elaborate con-trick they experienced, which revolved around Hayut claiming he had to go undercover to avoid his enemies and stop using his own credit-cards, the ease with which they bonded with a man who clearly cared nothing for them lays them open to derision themselves, and Morris doesn’t do much to try and stop this public shaming.

There’s zero context, zero legal expertise, just a deeply horrible man and some questionable relationships that are presented for us to sneer at. Like Inventing Anna, you can’t say that it’s not engaging in a gawkish, tablid way, but The Tinder Swindler, like the man it takes inspiration from, plays on the worst aspects of human emotion; this is TV as a freak-show, and it’s hard to see Netflix maintaining their market share with this kind of empty-calorie, lowest-common denominator tv for long…

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  1. Like Channel 4 run wild. They pretend this is journalistic and ignore all the rules of journalism. They hide stuff till way at the end. I watched one about cryptocurrency fraud where the CEO died “mysteriously” in India at 30. This was kept up all the way till they explained it wasn’t at all mysterious. His wife was a bad ‘un because she changed her name three times. Likewise at the end we discover one of the these names was her birth name, the second was her married name. Netflix seems to have struck gold with unexplained crimes.

    • It’s seemingly very appealing to part of their audience, but what sticks in my craw about this one is the guillible participants being told that they have a duty to appear and expose this guy. Appearing in Netflix shows isn’t a civic responsibility….

  2. I try not to victim shame people, but maaaaan, sometimes it is really hard not to.
    If it is too good to be true, then it is too good to be true. That would save folks from about 90% of scams…

  3. This got a LOT of play on podcasts and on blogs, which no doubt helps its ratings.

    Not sure why chasing the lowest common denominator means bad news for Netflix’s market share . . .

    Didn’t see the show and likely never will but I did read up on the story. Hayut is a scummy con-man, but in all con cases you’re going to get victim shaming. And you have to shake your head at some of these women. Why would a guy who owned a private jet be wanting to come sweep them off their feet? It’s the Disney Princess fantasy. Plus “awe at his obscene wealth” is easily understood as greed.

    And docs like this do serve a sort of purpose in alerting people to how if it’s online it’s likely going to be a scam. I’ve been burned myself, not on dating sites, but paying for stuff that never arrived. Only $1`0 once, but still. Helps to get the word out to people to stay on guard.

    • What did you pay one dollar for that never arrived? A Mr Moto blu ray collection?

      I do feel sorry for these women because they’ve been conned once, but then a second time by participating in this film. I get that it’s meant to be a warning, but it’s really just an answer to the question; what kind of person falls for something so obvious?

      Anyway, I need to borrow $100,000 from you, can you wire me the money? My cards are not working, the bank’s fault, I assume.

      • Of course these scams always seem obvious in hindsight, but it’s worth telling the stories because it helps identify how scammers weaknesses that are easily exploited. I think I read somewhere about how romance scams are the number one form of online fraud now. Best to be aware of these.

        No problem with the $100K. Could you just email me all of your banking info so I can be sure the money is being directed to the right place?

        • Great, I’ll just take the money directly from your account. Of course, I’ll pay you back once we have bought our house together. Did you know I’m very very rich? And you are the person I want to share it with! Lucky you!

        • I guess these women have been sold in the idea that this is all educational, but it doesn’t really play out like that. And while these splashy tabloid shows generate hits, they do so at the expense of Netflix’s lofty notions of how they think they are building an audience.

            • The have a huge spend on original content, and yet it’s this kind of tabloid tv which clicks with their audience. Long run; it’s not their business plan.

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