A lot of women thought they met the perfect guy when they matched with Simon Leviev on Tinder: after all, who could resist an extraordinarily average looking—but seemingly well educated and admittedly very charming—billionaire? The only downside is that Simon’s “enemies” are after him. His accounts are frozen. His credit cards are being traced. Therefore, he needs to borrow $50,000 immediately. If it sounds like a typical catfishing story, that’s because you’ve only heard the beginning. Simon Leviev has reportedly swindled an estimated $10 million out of myriad people—and Simon’s swindling isn’t just limited to women who were romantically involved with him. Allegedly, Simon has also swindled friends, employers, and other associates out of money. Thanks to the Netflix documentary, The Tinder Swindler, many are wondering, do the women Simon Leviev swindled have a valid claim against him?
A FRAUD CLAIM
If this occurred in The United States, the women featured in The Tinder Swindler would likely have a civil claim against Simon Leviev for at least fraud, assuming all of their allegations are true. The success of the ladies’ lawsuit would depend on a lot of factors including—but not limited to—the following: what kind of evidence they had, how much evidence they had, the amount of assets Leviev had, and the lawyers’ ability to locate Leviev. Since Moxie Law Group doesn’t handle fraud, we won’t speculate on how successful their claim would be. However, we can speculate on whether or not these ladies would have a personal injury claim in the United States.
NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Negligent infliction of emotional distress occurs when the defendant knows, or reasonably should have known that their conduct would emotionally distress the plaintiff. The plaintiff would also have to prove that, not only has the defendant’s conduct emotionally distressed them, but also placed them in the zone of danger. Simon supposedly told the women he swindled that his “enemies” were after him on multiple occasions, and intended to do physical harm to him and those close to him. He allegedly led victims to believe that he was the son of Lev Leviev, a wealthy businessman with powerful connections. Due to this, Simon’s victims may have genuinely believed that Simon had some very powerful and dangerous people coming after him, and that they were in danger. Though Simon is not the son of Lev Leviev, and we have yet to find out who his enemies—assuming they actually exist—are, it may be argued that, based on the evidence the women had, that they genuinely believed that the threats were credible.
INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Intentional infliction of emotional distress occurs when the defendant engages in outrageous and intolerable conduct. In addition to outrageous and intolerable conduct, the defendant must also either intend to cause emotional distress, or act with reckless disregard for the probability of causing emotional distress. Lastly, the plaintiff must prove that they were emotionally distressed by the defendant’s actions. When the women began to refuse to give Simon money, Simon would allegedly send them aggressive, threatening messages. These messages may be used as evidence that Simon was attempting to emotionally distress them, or scare them into giving him more money. Also, it could be argued that Simon acted with reckless disregard for the emotional well-being of these women when he supposedly manipulated them into taking out large sums of money for him. Furthermore, since one of his victims, Cecille, checked into a psychiatric hospital after her relationship with Simon Leviev, that may be good evidence in an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.
CAN THEY SUE TINDER?
It would be difficult to sue Tinder for the damage Simone reportedly caused. This is because Tinder has created a platform for users to meet new people; Tinder itself hasn’t actually done anything to cause the women injury. Tinder simply introduced the women to a person who caused them injury. Furthermore, Tinder cannot be held accountable for how their users act when outside the platform. In a personal injury claim, Tinder would likely argue that they’ve taken reasonable precautions in ensuring that their users are protected from users they don’t want to communicate with. Not only does Tinder have a block feature, but you can also unmatch and report people who are bothering you. Tinder has also banned Simon Leviev from their platform. Though that may not stop him from simply creating another account, there’s not too much Tinder can reasonably do about that, and a jury would likely find that Tinder has taken reasonable precautions.
PERSONAL INJURY OUTSIDE OF AMERICA
The women featured in Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler would likely have a hard time filing a personal injury claim against the alleged con-artist, Simon Leviev. Even if they were able to prove that his conduct met the standards for negligent infliction of emotional distress, or intentional infliction of emotional distress, the legal advice we discussed in this blog only apply to the State of Utah in the United States. Depending on what countries the women are from, filing a personal injury claim may not be an option.
WE STAND WITH THE VICTIMS
This is far from an ordinary catfishing story where a person sends money out of the country to another person they’ve never met. These women gave their savings and took on debt for a person they had met on numerous occasions and learned to trust. With private jets, international flights, designer clothes, luxury hotels, fancy dinners, and high-end cars, Simon appeared to be a man who could pay back the money the women lent him. Now, the women have lost significant sums of money and have started a GoFundMe account in order to try to get back on their feet. If you’re dating online, please be careful. Do not loan money that you cannot afford to lose permanently.