Los Angeles, CA

My Ex-Husband Was Scammed Out of $9,000 by a Woman on a Dating Site

Elle Silver

I just watched The Tinder Swindler on Netflix. If you haven't seen it, it's a new documentary that recounts the story of a man who scammed multiple women around the world out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It seems like it would be impossible to fall for such a scam, but the con men and women of dating websites are professionals. They know how to touch the emotional buttons to make people fall in love with them.

They know what you’re lacking, what you need, and how to exploit that.

Think it couldn’t happen to you? I watched it firsthand happen to my ex-husband.

My husband was the victim of an online dating scam.

I was the one who initiated the divorce with my ex-husband. He was lost after I left him.

Still, he got out there and started trying to date. He was having a lot of problems on dating websites though.

He was not the same guy as when we first met. What I mean by this is that when we met, he was slender, young, and successful.

By the time I left him, he was overweight and out of work. Let’s just say he wasn’t exactly hot property as he entered the dating pool yet again.

He was the type of guy who most women in Los Angeles give wide berth. He was depressed that I had left him. No wonder he was having a lot of trouble meeting women.

One day, a beautiful twenty-nine-year-old contacted him through OKCupid. She said that she loved older men. My ex was forty-nine at the time.

She told him how interesting and good-looking he was. She told him everything he wanted to hear.

Soon, she was sending sexy photos. My ex and I have a relationship where we talk about who we're dating. He told me about this woman. I suspected her from the start.

I was curious to see what she looked like. I asked to see the photos she'd sent him—her "selfies."

My ex showed me her shots and they looked so professional, like they'd been stolen from another website. I told him so. He told me that she said she had taken them herself.

I didn’t believe that.

But this was my ex we’re talking about. What was I supposed to do?

Then he told me something that sealed the deal that this was a scam. This woman's phone wasn’t working so she could all only text him online.

He couldn’t hear her voice. For all he knew, he was sexting with a man.

”You have to hear her voice to make sure she's actually a woman,” I told him.

My ex waved off my concerns. It still sounded fishy. It's so easy to get a phone these days. You can get one from the government for free.

My ex told me not to worry. She was going to have the money to get a new phone soon. She had an inheritance.

And you guessed it: she said she had this money coming to her but she didn't have a bank account. For some reason, she couldn't open one. She needed my ex's help. He was her boyfriend, after all!

My ex's heart swelled when he heard her call him her boyfriend. Meanwhile, he hadn’t even spoken to this woman on the phone yet. He didn’t know what she really looked like as they hadn't met in person. Of course, they hadn’t done a video call.

Oh, and she lived in a different state.

Sounds like no one could fall for this, but my ex did because this con person broke him down over several weeks' time. This "woman" kept sending him hot photos (that the person behind the scam had pulled from another internet site.)

I tried to explain all this but my ex was blinded by his lust. He desperately wanted this story to be true.

The "woman" promised that when she had the money my ex would wire her, she'd fly to see him. She mailed my ex her inheritance check. He was to cash it, then wire the money to her.

Only he wasn't supposed to wire the money to her but to her lawyer who lived in yet a different state.

Yeah, she had a lawyer in another state, but no bank account and no phone. Sounds like no one could fall for this. My ex did because she told him everything he wanted to hear. She kept texting nudes, telling him how much she loved him, how hot he was (yes, he texted her nudes too).

My ex fell deeper into this woman's clutches. Still, a part of him suspected something was off. When he voiced his doubts, she became angry, gaslighting him, calling him out for not trusting her.

He feared that if he pushed too hard, he'd lose this woman who maybe wasn't even a woman.

He cashed her check and wired the lawyer the money: $4000. The scammer didn’t ditch him afterward. She came up with another reason why she still couldn’t open a bank account and had to wait a while longer to fly to see him.

Nothing added up but my ex was so smitten that he didn’t care. He continued to hold onto hope even as she told him she needed more money to buy a car so that she could get a job.

She sent another check, more of her inheritance money: $5000 this time. But this time, she didn’t want my ex to wire the money to her lawyer. She asked for him to send her iTunes cards.

My ex told me about this and I completely flipped. I searched scams and there it was: the iTunes card scam.

I tried to plead with my ex that he was being scammed, but he wouldn’t believe me because this woman was still sending him texts about how much she loved him.

I finally ran a reverse-check on her photos and found them on a porn site. They'd been taken from there.

I told my ex. Even then he didn’t want to believe me.

These people are professionals. Besides, to believe me would mean my ex was stupid.

People don’t want to believe they’ve fallen for a scam.

My ex didn't believe me until he found out the checks he'd deposited had bounced. Not only that, the checks were fake.

My ex was scammed a second time.

You'd think my ex would have learned his lesson after this. He didn't. Yet again, he was scammed by someone professing to be a beautiful woman. Yet again, she was much younger than my ex.

She was scantily clad in her photos on the dating website. Of course, when my ex told me about this woman, showing me her photos, I suspected her immediately.

This time I didn't wait to do the reverse photo search. I did it immediately.

I couldn’t find the photos anywhere else. Still, it all smelled fishy.

This woman also didn’t have a phone that worked. My ex sent her money to get a new phone.

She gave him an address to send the check to. She ghosted him after he sent it.

Then he actually drove to her address to ask her what was up. She lived six hours away!

But of course, she wasn’t home. Finally, she called my ex back, making up some story about how that was her dad's place. That my ex had shown up unannounced was obnoxious.

She was very offended he'd done that. “She" was probably the man who lived at this address.

This time my ex believed it was a scam. And he learned his lesson.

When yet another woman contacted him claiming she was an American doctor living in Africa and needed him to send her money so she could get home to the U.S., my ex-husband didn’t do it.

What's wrong with my ex? Is he stupid? No.

Maybe my ex-husband is gullible but these scammers prey on people who want love. They say all the right things. They love-bomb their victims and make you feel like you’re special.

In short, they’re too good to be true because they’re not true.

If you’re someone like my ex, who was struggling to meet women, this can be very intoxicating. People don’t want to give up the opportunity to meet this amazing person because no one else wants them.

But if you think it’s only men like my ex who get scammed, you’re mistaken. The Tinder Swindler, who goes by the name Simon Leviev, scammed money out of beautiful women.

He presented himself as Prince Charming. Even gorgeous women couldn't resist him.

They fell madly in love with him.

Don’t think the victims of scams are so gullible. We all want love and these people are professionals. They know exactly what to say to scam you.

That’s why they’re called con artists. They gain your confidence and then they exploit it.

If you call them on their lies they gaslight you. You have to be strong.

But when we’re in love we are in a vulnerable position. We’ve all been there.

So just know that the scammers are out there. Do your best to protect yourself.

In the end, nobody’s got your back but you.

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Journalist and relationships expert. I write about Los Angeles as well as about dating, divorce, and family.

Los Angeles, CA

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