“The TinderSammer” tells the story of a boy who flees his country and commits a huge scam. For several years, he pretended to be the son of a billionaire diamond dealer looking for true love…
The 2022 documentary on Netflix is based on the true story of Simon Leviev as told by three of his many victims. Simon would have defrauded dozens (even hundreds) of women for a loot estimated at €10 million.
And the craziest thing is that his victims didn’t see anything coming at all, they even gave money on purpose.
So the question is how can someone like this fool so many people for so many years? And what can you learn from it, either to avoid being manipulated or to be more successful in life?
If you prefer, you can also view this case study here.
diabolical sales funnel
If you crossed paths a few years ago with Simon Leviev on Tinder, this is a safe bet that they would have matched. And when he calls you to offer you a first date at a hotel bar that same night, you may have gone there as dozens of people have.
You’ve just taken your first step in Machiavellian gear.
However, nothing special happened. This is because Tinder scammer has developed a precise and straightforward process in which each step brings you a little closer to his goal and prevents you from getting out of it.
In business, this is called the sales funnel (or conversion path). It’s the idea that the salesperson starts to grab the potential customer’s attention. Then we spark interest in him with our solution. Finally, the potential customer becomes a customer by making a purchase.
At Tinder scammer, we can easily imagine that his goal is not to sell a product, but to make money from you.
Today, there are very complex sales funnels that, if done well, would have incredible conversion rates.
But above all, this principle applies to other areas (beyond business) because it calls for global human behaviours.
Have you ever thought of going and buying a box of pasta from Bricolex or Castorama?
Because this simple package of pasta offered innocently in the supermarket actually respects very clear marketing rules. It fulfills a real need. You want pasta. It is sold wherever you go and fulfill this need. If you go shopping, you go to the supermarket. This is where you should sell your pasta.
If your product does not correspond to a real need, there is no point in setting up any sales funnel. Will not work.
So Lustucru or Panzani know that pasta corresponds to a need because they have studied their purpose. But they also know that to meet this need, their goal is to go to the supermarket.
Simon Leviev did the same. He studied his target (in this case single women).
What is their need? Thanks to the Disney curation and rosewater movies taking place all over the place, one can imagine a woman dreaming of her Prince Charming. Today Prince Charming does not have a castle and knights to serve them, but a private jet, Rolls-Royce and assistants.
Where do these women seek to meet this need? In dating apps with Tinder in mind because it is a tyrannical force in the field of love.
In short, Simon Leviev attracts his prospects with the offer they want (Prince Charming) and by presenting his offer in a strategic location (Tinder).
In 1971, Professor Dennis Reagan of Cornell University in the United States conducted an experiment. Two people were placed in a room to give their opinion on the artwork. It was actually organized because only one of these two people was actually the subject of the experiment. The other was a partner.
At some point, the partner snuck away and then came back into the room either empty-handed or with two bottles of cola. One foot for experience.
At the end of this experiment, the partner ended up offering the volunteers to buy lottery tickets.
And guess what: when the person in question was offered a Coke, he bought, on average, twice as many lottery tickets (for an amount that was much higher than the price of Coca-Cola).
This is what Robert Cialdini in his book Influence and Manipulation calls reciprocity.
The rule of reciprocity is that one should seek to repay the benefits he has received from others. If someone does us a favour, we ought to do them a favour.And the If a friend sends us a gift on our birthday, we won’t forget to do the same for himAnd the If we receive an invitation we must return it
In short, if you get something without expecting a return, you will be more inclined to buy later when you are offered an offer.
This is a widely used technique on the internet with ‘free’ e-books that will actually make you responsible for purchasing the training afterwards.
We also note this with the system of free samples or small gifts that associations give through La Poste just a few days before they arrive to request a donation by check.
In his book Tinder scammer, Simon Leviev uses the principle of reciprocity to perfection. For several weeks, he will give literally everything to his future victims. Whether it’s travel, clothes, restaurants or accommodation… anything goes! This way, the day they are asked for money, they will feel indebted and will be more likely to give up.
Is enough ! You’ve written blog posts that your target has read. They have downloaded your e-book and you regularly send them high-value content. You have done everything well.
But you still have a problem: they don’t buy when you present your sales page. They hesitated, they don’t have the money this month, and they will be back in three days to pay.
You’re missing one last element: urgency.
Do you also feel compelled to run for the credit card in your bag when you see that there are only three seats left at this price for a flight that will take you on vacation? Or when there are only three copies left of the book you absolutely want? When will the training you hesitate to buy soon be available for several months? Or when will the latest iPhone be out of stock soon?
Whether it was Amazon, Air France or Apple, they got it.
To get potential customers to buy, they sometimes need a little nudge in the ass. And the best way to do this is to create urgency. If there is an emergency, it is because there is a possibility of losing in the end.
But humans hate losing something.
Above all, don’t take a choice away from them. If there were no more shares, no more room, or no more opportunity to buy the formation, it meant that they lost. It was an opportunity that would never come again. Start. Poof.
Once again Simon Leviev understood this well. He set up Urgency in two places in his sales funnel.
At first to force the victims into a trap. During the first conversations on Tinder, he made it clear that he is only in the victim’s city that evening, that he travels a lot and leaves the next morning. If she wants to meet him now or not. And it works great! At the same time, who would miss the chance to meet the one who looks like Prince Charming? It would be a huge loss!
The second moment: when he asks for money from relatives after several weeks. There are his enemies who are in his wake. They are trying to kill him. He needs the money immediately to escape, but he can’t use his credit card because he can be tracked down. If he doesn’t get the money, he will die. This is a great loss for our victims!
We can clearly see that in the two key moments of its sales tunnel (when potential customers have to take action), Tinder scammer creates an urgent need to pressure them and in a way that prompts them to answer “yes”.
The result of this highly optimized sales funnel
The result of the highly improved sales funnel was that Simon Leviev’s victims had almost no chance of escaping from it.
I don’t know if he was aware of the power of the marketing tools he uses, but anyway, what he did was remarkably well (and Machiavellian) execution.
So the big lessons from this story are:
- Create a product or service that your audience wants. Without this, there is no point in moving forward. If Simon Leviev had not been a charming prince, he would not have had so many people to plunder;
- Likewise, put your bait in the place of your target audience. We do not sell pasta at Precolux.
- Give if you want to take. If you’re looking to convert leads into customers in your sales funnel, be generous from the start by offering tons of value, free samples, ebooks, white papers…you name it! The possibilities are limitless.
- Feel free to squeeze everything in a little bit. Duration or limited stock, for example, works very well;
- But above all, watch out for misleading appearances on social media and dating sites. If it’s too good to be true, it sure is.