New York—LLD Diamonds has recently been the subject of some unwanted attention.
The diamond company behind the Leviev
jewelry brand has found itself entangled in an elaborate catfish over the last several years that is the subject of renewed public fascination.
In 2019, a viral investigative article from Norwegian news outlet VG
brought to light the saga of an Israeli man born Shimon Hayut, who posed as the fictitious CEO of LLD Diamonds, Simon Leviev, in order to allegedly dupe women he met on Tinder out of millions of dollars.
National Jeweler covered the story here
Now, a new Netflix documentary called “The Tinder Swindler” recounts the drama and adds another chapter, further involving LLD Diamonds.
To recap, Hayut claimed to be son of LLD Diamonds founder and billionaire Lev Leviev, going so far as to legally change his name to Simon Leviev in 2017. (Lev Leviev has several children, none named Simon.)
The real Leviev founded LLD Diamonds USA in 1996 and earned the moniker the “King of Diamonds.”
Per the LLD Diamonds website
, the company is the largest privately held diamond manufacturer and cutting group in the world, with ownership in mines that give it total control of the diamond pipeline.
The website notes Leviev earned his place in the diamond world by “undercutting the De Beers diamond cartel, striking his own deals with diamond-producing countries like Russia and Angola.”
Hayut channeled similar bravado into his fake identity as Simon Leviev, taking on the mantle of the “Prince of Diamonds.”
To the women he met on Tinder, he was convincing, flying by private jet, being chauffeured by a Rolls-Royce, and staying in luxury hotels across Europe. He traveled with security and told stories of dangerous associates in the diamond world.
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His victims didn’t know his lavish lifestyle was funded by the victims preceding them in a Ponzi scheme of scams.
Hayut’s elaborate con involved pretending to be in danger from his professional adversaries, claiming they were tracking him through his financial charges.
His latest mark would then be convinced to loan him money, emptying out savings accounts, maxing out credit cards, or even taking cash loans to temporarily keep him afloat until he could come out of hiding.
One of three victims interviewed in “The Tinder Swindler,” Cecilie Fjellhøy, owed a total of $250,000 to financial institutions during the length of her con.
With “The Tinder Swindler” joining the ranks of cultural scamming sensations like documentary “Fyre Festival,” or Theranos podcast “The Dropout,” LLD Diamonds now finds itself at the center of many a Google search.
The company took to Instagram the day after the documentary’s Netflix premiere to clarify that it has no connection to the infamous conman.
It wrote in part: “We want to clarify that Shimon Hayut (who changed his name to Simon Leviev) has no affiliation whatsoever with our company or with the Leviev family. @llddiamonds
has been a reputable leader in the diamond industry for over three decades. Nothing Mr. Hayut has said about LLD should be believed.”
“The Tinder Swindler” sees even more intersection between “Simon Leviev” and LLD Diamonds than the original VG article.
The film notes Hayut took advantage of diamond smuggling allegations
in 2018 against LLD Diamonds and an employee’s subsequent suicide
to con another of his victims, Pernilla Sjoholm, into believing he was in danger and in dire need of a temporary loan.
It’s just one more example of the con artist manipulating real-life scenarios for use in his fraud.
“The Tinder Swindler” shows that Hayut did meet some measure of justice, though today he is a free man in Israel who was active on Instagram right up until the documentary’s release.
With his track record, it might not be the last time LLD Diamonds is forced to publicly distance itself from the heir it never knew.