Money Lessons from the Tinder Swindler

When swiping right can go horribly wrong.

The Tinder Swindler has taken the Netflix world by storm, in what is a horrifying story of Shimon Hayut preying on and taking advantage of the emotions of women across the globe, with many of them still left paying for his actions.

While it is easy for many to sit on their couch and judge the women for being foolish enough to fall for such a scam, the truth of the matter is that many of the best and brightest can and do fall victims to such scams. These women did not deserve to be taken advantage of in this way and certainly don’t deserve to be still paying for it.

This week I take a look at some of the top personal finance lessons that we can take away from the Tinder Swindler. The documentary certainly provides a refresher for many tips that we should all be constantly aware of.

1. A loan in your name means you’re responsible

Throughout the documentary, we see many of the women taking out personal loans, credit cards, and even some increasing the credit limits on cards they’ve already taken out just to send money to the man they love.

It’s been supported many times over the years that love makes us do crazy things, such as sending large amounts of money to those we’re romantically involved with. As Richard Schwartz found, when we’re engaged in romantic love, then the neural machinery responsible for making a critical assessment of someone, such as the person that’s requesting we take out a loan for them, shuts us down. This is where the expression, ‘love is blind’, comes from.

In these circumstances, it can be a sensible idea to speak to your friends, family, and close support network for their assessment of the situation. They may be able to see things that you’re currently incapable of. It’s also important to recognise that a loan of any kind in your name is your responsibility, irrespective of who’s promising you that they will repay it. This applies for a home loan in joint names where you are each still responsible for 100% of it, or a credit card is taken out in your name.

2. Too many credit checks can impact your credit score

In the documentary, the victims are constantly applying for new credit cards and personal loans with a range of new banks, as well as increasing their credit limits based on falsified payslips. If you’re consistently applying for new credit cards, and personal loans, it’s important to recognise that this can have a negative impact on your credit score.

It’s important to remember that a credit check could arise from taking out a new mobile phone plan, applying for a store credit card when you’re buying a furniture package or new TV, or finance on your new car. Be aware of the long-term impacts of such inquiries.

3. Never gift money that you can’t afford to live without

In the documentary, Pernilla, one of the victims of Shimon, believes she is helping a ‘friend in need’ by gifting him most, if not all, of her available funds believing that he’ll have no problem paying it back. This brings to mind the expression, ‘you shouldn’t mix friends and finances’.

Whether your ‘friend’ is genuinely committing fraud, or simply has trouble being able to pay you back despite having the best of intentions, it’s important to only ever gift money that you can afford to live without forever. While we hope that this would always be repaid, and could do irreparable damage to the relationship if it’s not, the fact is that this may not always be the case.

In circumstances like this, consider if you can help them in non-financial ways. You should never put your own financial security at significant risk.

4. Someone who is willing to steal will forge documents

There are countless examples throughout the Tinder Swindler whereby Shimon is sending the victims bank statements or copies of clearly falsified transfer receipts to pretend that he is repaying the funds of these women. What should have been a clear warning sign was that he created a fake payslip for one of his victims to allow her to increase the credit limit on one of her credit cards.

It's important to remember, particularly with today’s software and other technology, that creating forged documents can be a quick and simple process for someone who is willing to steal from you. Whether they’re showing you a bank balance, share portfolio statement, or any other personal information to further gain your trust, always remember that it could very well be fake.

In 2020, Australians lost over $130 million to romantic scams, so it’s more important than ever to act with a sense of skepticism and caution, particularly when it comes to online dating.

5. Watch out for ‘love-bombing’

When it comes to most romantic finance scams, the perpetrator is looking to separate you from your money as quickly as possible. In the case of the Tinder Swindler, this involves taking the women on over-the-top dates, private jets, and around the world to quickly gain their trust and build up an impression of excessive wealth and power. He was then quickly talking to the women about where they might rent a property so that they could start a family, despite obviously having no intention of doing either.

Using this con, they’re looking to quickly shift the relationship into 5th gear, until they can manage to arrange to get access to your funds. This might be in the form of an ‘investment opportunity’ that you need to act quickly on, providing them with some financial support, or in the case of the documentary, a more elaborate con suggesting that Shimon and his family were in danger, and required some funds to keep themselves afloat.

Be wary of such excessive behaviour, particularly when it comes to online dating, as at the very least, it may demonstrate some negative behaviour when it comes to money management and overall spending, while at the other end of the spectrum, may be a red flag that your date is up to something far more sinister.

I would certainly recommend checking out the documentary if you’ve not already seen it, and I’ve tried not to leave too many spoilers throughout this article. I hope you find it helpful, and if you have any questions at all, please reach out and let me know.

To Your Financial Success!

Jarrad Brown is an Australian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner with Australian Expatriate Group of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd - No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3

Australian Expatriate Group is a division of Global Financial Consultants in Singapore providing specialist advice to Australians living abroad.

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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.

*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.

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