The most popular shows on Netflix today are about two con artists: The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna. The Tinder Swindler tells the story of a convicted fraudster called Shimon Hayut, who changed his name to Simon Leviev and pretended to be the jet-setting son of Israeli billionaire, Lev Avnerovich Leviev. Leviev conned the women he had met on the dating app out of a rumoured $10m. Some of these women are still paying off their debt today as Leviev continues to unashamedly flaunt his faux wealth and current girlfriend on social media. Inventing Anna is about Anna Sorkin, who changed her name to Anna Delvey and pretended to be a German heiress, and conned the good and great of Manhattan society. Spoiler alert: the article contains details about both series.
While the two stories make for gripping small-screen magic, the reality is that con artists are more common than you think. Here are the five signs that the person you are dating is a fraud:
#1 Hard to explain source of income
What does your significant other do, exactly? The most basic question is enough to make the best scammer squirm and spin a tale that is full of holes. In the 1990s, occupational red flags included ‘import/export business’ while everyone today seems to be an ‘entrepreneur’ with an office in Dubai. Even LinkedIn profiles and so-called accolades can be faked so do your due diligence the old fashioned way by dropping by at their place of work or home office or boot of their car. Seeing is believing.
Leviev and Delvey both led an outrageous lifestyle of private jets, designer clothes and lavish hotel rooms. In Leviev’s case, this lifestyle was paid for by someone else’s money – he used one woman’s credit card and cash to pay for the next date in a classic dating Ponzi scheme. Delvey was jailed for leaving a string of unpaid hotel bills and outstanding bank loans though her preferred MO was to say that a wire transfer had been made – the modern day equivalent of the cheque is in the mail.
#2 They divulge very little about themselves
How much do you know about your significant other? Have you met their real friends and family? Been to their home where they keep their toothbrush? Or do you usually meet at your place or in hotel rooms? Scammers will know everything about you but rarely tell you anything about themselves. Leviev had the Oslo number of a victim’s mother and left threatening voice messages after she turned on him. Delvey was a master of reading human emotions and exploited that to build trust but always avoided questions about her own family.
#3 The relationship moves too quickly
Once scammers get into your life, they will move fast like a virus. Leviev swept women off their feet by flying them on a private jet on the first date. Delvey offered to pay for shopping sprees for people she had just met even though she was squatting in a rich woman’s house and living off her boyfriend, who was also a scammer. Does your significant other quickly move into your home? Now driving your car? Charging things to your card? They start to get so comfortable that they don’t even offer to pay for meals. When someone gets too comfortable too quickly in your space without letting you into theirs, that is a major red flag.
#4 Always travelling and busy
Is your significant other always travelling for work? Unreachable for extended periods of time. Where are they going? Especially if they are not a flight attendant or high-powered executive featured by Forbes. And where was this person during lock-down? Post the pandemic, we now know that work can get done virtually so where are you off to all the time? Ask to join a work trip or pick them up at the airport to ensure this person is telling the truth.
#5 Borrows money but never pays back
Both Leviev and Delvey were supposedly wealthy but never seemed to have money to pay for stuff. In Leviev’s case, his enemies were tracking his credit card and he needed cash to keep his businesses going. Delvey never seemed to have a functioning credit card and paid for things with cash. Who pays the bills in your relationship? It’s one thing to be dating a broke person and knowingly go into a relationship happy to pay all the bills. It’s another thing when someone lies to extract money that they have zero intention of paying back. Don’t be a victim!