The Tinder Swindler to Celebs Go Dating: Cecilie Fjellhøy looks for love

  • In Business
  • 2022-11-28 02:23:53Z
  • By BBC

If you're a regular Netflix watcher or dating app user, you might recognise Cecilie Fjellhøy.

She was one of the unlucky stars of The Tinder Swindler - the streaming giant's hit documentary about fraudster Simon Leviev.

Cecilie is one of the women who says Leviev - real name Shimon Hayut - posed as a wealthy heir to dupe them out of thousands of pounds.

Five years on, the 33-year-old is ready to find love again.

This time she's appearing on Celebs Go Dating, a show where a cast of stars - often from reality TV like Love Island and The Only Way Is Essex - go on dates with non-celebrities.

"I don't feel like a celeb, I don't want people to think that I look at myself as a celeb," says Cecilie, speaking at the series launch.

"But I really appreciate that my face is actually known around the world," she tells Newsbeat.

"And I'm blessed that I'm able to do Celebs Go Dating and show a different side to me."

After sharing her experience, Cecilie is perhaps more optimistic about dating than you might expect.

"Dating for me has always been fun. And I always try to continue to have fun with it," she says.

Celebs Go Dating is opening her eyes "to new things", she says, before joking: "Because I'm known for picking bad people."

And yes, she even says she's back on Tinder.

"I never looked at Tinder as the one to be blamed for what happened to me because I met him in real life," she says.

"But I think I went a bit too quick back on the apps."

Pernilla and Cecilie (right)
Pernilla and Cecilie (right)  

Following The Tinder Swindler's release, Cecilie received a largely sympathetic reaction from viewers, but she was also subjected to misogynistic comments.

She says some in the incel movement - men who refer to themselves as involuntarily celibate - labelled her a "gold digger", and thought she deserved to be scammed.

Cecilie's expecting some backlash to her dating show appearance too.

"Trolling always happens - I've learnt not to read it," she says.

"I think it's important to shine a light on those comments.

"All of these type of things can be dangerous. It's fun to laugh about it, but it can be dangerous in the long run."

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Cecilie campaigns for more awareness surrounding romance fraud - and she says she wants tailored training for police and healthcare professional so victims can feel better supported.

She also wants to help remove some of the stigma surrounding scams, so people feel less ashamed about reaching for help if they are victims.

And she says it's "disheartening" that Leviev is a free man.

Simon Leviev
Simon Leviev  

"My main thing was never to become a celebrity, it was to get him in jail and keep people protected from people like him," she says.

In 2019, Leviev was convicted of four charges of fraud - unrelated to Cecilie's allegations - and sentenced to 15 months in prison, but he was released after serving only five months.

Leviev told BBC Newsbeat he strongly denied the accusations in The Tinder Swindler.

He's still based in Israel - and Cecilie says she unexpectedly saw him in a beach club in Tel Aviv.

"I just looked at him and he looked at me - I just gave him a little wave and then that's it," she says.

"I'm not scared of him. Unfortunately, a lot of people are, but he can't hurt me anymore.

"It's very disheartening seeing him out and about."

Leviev claims he reported Cecilie's Tel Aviv visit to Israeli police and accused her of harassing him.

He was sentenced in Finland in 2015 for defrauding three women.

'Red flags'

Cecilie says she still gets DMs from a range of people, young and old, sharing their stories of romance fraud.

But she does have advice to share if you suspect you're being scammed.

"If you're thinking or wondering, reach out to either family, friends, tell them about what you're experiencing," she says.

She advises contacting the bank as "they're not your enemy".

"The thing is that with fraud, you don't realise red flags when they're happening," she says,

"And that's why it's dangerous. And when you realise you've been defrauded: go to the police, go to your bank."

Celebs Go Dating airs on E4 from 28 November.

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