That’s what occured to the women in the Netflix documentary, “The Tinder Swindler.”
A con artist, Shimon Hayut, born Simon Leviev, love-bombed women on dating apps and tricked them into giving him millions.
Three women had a similar experience and shared their stories.
Jerni Sigmon of North Carolina met her now-ex at a restaurant where they both worked in high school; they dated for about two years.
“Throughout our entire relationship, he would guilt me into paying for everything whenever we went somewhere together, buying him things he wanted and even loaning him $3,000 to buy a new car,” said the 20-year-old. “When we went to college, I ended up paying some of his rent, paying for all of his textbooks and sending him money for food because ‘he couldn’t get a job and focus on school.’”
Sigmon said he manipulated her with excuses.
“He said that because my parents were well-off and I had a better job than him, I shouldn’t mind spending money on someone I love,” she shared.
Giving him that money didn’t feel right, but his guilt tactics were strong and she succumbed. That’s what makes these situations incredibly tricky.
In Emily Courter’s case, her now-ex used a different tactic.
The 27-year-old from New Hampshire dated him for three years and they were married for five. He made six figures and discouraged her from working.
“As he was the main earner throughout our relationship, he always had his paychecks go into accounts only he had access to,” Courter said. “When he would get paid, he would put money in a separate account for me, like an allowance, but it was for everything needed for the house.”
He asked her to buy more home items than he’d given the money for. “Sometimes I would overdraft his accounts because of this and his many requests,” Courter said. “He set me up to fail … I had no financial power.”
With Caitlin Eichorn, 27, her former partner made her make decisions she was not comfortable with.
“I felt extreme guilt at my privilege, especially once I went back to work and started making more money than I ever had,” Eichorn said. “I felt like I owed her, and she was very, very good at taking.”
The California resident bought her ex a plane ticket and they had a green card marriage within five months of meeting. After marrying, she wanted a puppy, car, keyboard, dance company and more. On top of that, she wasn’t willing to get a job, and she told Eichorn horror stories about her past to guilt her into endless purchases. This was all while Eichorn was trying to live off unemployment due to COVID-19.
They were legally married for about a year and eight months, but five months in, Eichorn filed for divorce. With her wife’s evasiveness and lies, it was a long process. Eichorn decided to contact her ex. “[She] told me the exact same thing happened to her: she pretended to work for months, tried to get this girl to marry her and got out with large sums of money and a car,” Eichorn said. “We both wondered if the stories from her childhood were real.”
Eichorn lost a lot in that relationship.
“All in all, the situation probably cost me close to $25K, and was one of the most agonizing, humiliating and demoralizing things I’ve ever experienced,” she said. “I had no idea people were capable of lying on that level.”
What You Can Learn From Their Experiences
Sigmon: Don’t do it. I spent thousands of dollars on a boy that ended up hitting me, cheating on me and telling me I was worthless and unlovable. It’s never your fault if someone refuses to get a job, and it never has to fall on your shoulders to fully financially support your partner.
Courter: Don’t be ashamed, because it’s way more common than you think, and it doesn’t have to be permanent.There is life beyond the comfort of the known, even if what you know is dysfunction and financially abusive … I have so much more peace. And that is all worth the uncomfortable periods of growth.
Eichorn: You can be generous and kind without giving away parts of yourself. You have to protect yourself, even if it feels mean … And talk about it. Tell people in your life as these red flags come up. Talk to a therapist, share your story without shame.
If you think you may be experiencing financial abuse call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), chat with a support person on the website, or text “START” to 88788.