The movie “The Tinder Scammer” tells the story of a boy who runs away from his country and commits a huge scam. For many years, in search of true love, pretended to be the son of a billionaire diamond merchant…
The 2022 Netflix documentary is based on the true story of Simon Leviev, as told by three of his many victims. Simon may have defrauded dozens (even hundreds) of women for an estimated robbery of around 10 million euros.
And the strangest thing is that his victims saw that nothing was coming and even deliberately gave money.
So the question is, how can such a person deceive so many people for so many years? And what can you learn from it, either to avoid manipulation or to be more successful in life?
If you wish, you can also view this case study right here.
a diabolical sales funnel
If a few years ago you crossed paths with Simon Leviev on Tinder, it’s a safe bet that it would have matched. And while he may have approached you that same evening at his hotel bar to offer you a first date, you’ve probably been there like dozens of others have done.
You’ve just taken the first step in Machiavellian gear.
And still nothing special happened. This is because Tinder scammers have developed a precise and clear process in which each step brings you a little closer to your goal and prevents you from opting out of it.
In business, this is called a sales funnel (or conversion funnel). The idea is that the seller starts by getting the prospect’s attention. Then we add interest to it with our solution. And finally the prospect becomes a customer by making a purchase.
In Tinder scammers, we can easily imagine that his goal is not to sell a product, but to extort money from you.
Today, there are very wide sales funnels that, if done well, lead to incredible conversion rates.
But above all, this principle is applicable to other fields (outside business) as it calls for universal human behaviours.
Would it be appropriate for you to try and buy a pack of pasta at Bricolex or Castorama?
Because this simple package of pasta is displayed flawlessly in a supermarket, actually respects very clear marketing rules. It meets a real need. You want pasta. And it sells wherever you go and meets that need. If you go shopping, you go to the supermarket. So that’s where you have to sell pasta.
There is no point in setting up a sales funnel if your product doesn’t fit the actual need. It will not work.
The Lustucru or Panzani know that their pasta meets a requirement because they have studied their goal. But they also know that their goal goes to a supermarket to meet this need.
Simon Leviev did the same. They studied their target (in this case single women).
What do they need? Thanks to Disney formatting and the rose-water movies that parade everywhere, one can imagine a woman having lucid dreams of her prince. Today Prince Charming does not have a palace and cavalry to serve him, but a private jet, a Rolls Royce and assistants.
Where do these women want to go to meet this need? Considering Tinder on dating apps because it’s a juggernaut in the love business.
In short, Simon Leviev attracts his prospects with an offer (Prince Charming) and places his offer in a strategic location (Tinder).
In 1971, Professor Dennis Regan of Cornell University in the United States conducted an experiment. Two people were kept in a room to give their opinion on artistic works. It was actually staged because only one of these two people was actually the subject of the experiment. The other was a colleague.
At one point, the partner slipped and then returned to the room with either an empty hand or two bottles of Coke. He offered one about the experience.
At the end of this experience, the associate offered to buy lottery tickets for the volunteers.
Guess what: When the subject was offered a Coke, he bought lottery tickets on average twice (for an amount that was significantly higher than the price of a Coke).
This is called reciprocity by Robert Cialdini in his book “Influence and Manipulation”.
The law of reciprocity is that one should try to repay the benefits received from others. If someone does us a favor, we should do him a favor., If a friend sends us a gift for our birthday we won’t forget to do the same for him, If we get an invitation we have to return it
In short, if you are offered something without expecting a return, you will be more inclined to buy later when an offer is made.
This is a technique that is widely used on the Internet with “free” ebooks that will actually hold you accountable for purchasing training later.
We also see this with the system of free samples or small gifts offered by associations through La Poste a few days before asking to donate by check.
In Tinder Scammers, Simon Leviev uses this principle of reciprocity to perfection. For several weeks, he would literally offer everything to his future victims. Be it travel, clothing, restaurants, accommodation… anything happens! That way, the day he asks them for money, they’ll feel indebted and will be more likely to give.
and that is all ! You have written blog posts that are read by your target. They have downloaded your eBook and you regularly send them high value content. You did everything well
But you still have a problem: they don’t make purchases when you render your sales page. They hesitate, they don’t have money this month, they will be back in three days to pay.
And that’s fine.
You’re missing one last component: instantiation.
Do you even feel compelled to run for a credit card in your bag when you find that there are only three seats left at this price for the flight that will take you on vacation? Or do you absolutely want to when there are only three copies of the book left? When the training you’ve been hesitant to buy won’t be available for several months soon? Or when will the latest iPhone be out of stock?
Amazon, Air France or Apple, they understood it.
In order for their prospects to buy, they sometimes need a little kick in the ass. And the best way to do this is by creating urgency. If there is an emergency, it is because there is potentially damage in the end.
But man hates to lose something.
Above all, don’t take a choice from them. If there is no more stock, no more space, or no more opportunities to buy the formation, they are lost. It was an opportunity that would never come again. never. Poof.
Once again Simon Leviev understood this very well. He establishes urgency in two places in his sales funnel.
First forced the victims to be trapped in their nets. During the first exchange on Tinder, he reveals that he is only in the victim’s town that evening, that he travels a lot and leaves the next morning. If she wants to meet him then if not now then never. And it works wonderfully! Plus, who would miss a chance to meet someone who looks like Prince Charming? That would be a huge loss!
Second moment: When he asks his relatives for money after several weeks. There, his enemies are on his heels. They want to kill him. He urgently needs money to escape, but cannot use his credit card because it can be traced. If I don’t get the money, I will give my life. And that for once is a great loss to our victims!
We can clearly see that at two crucial moments in his sales tunnel (when his prospects must take action) the Tinder scammer urges him to pressurize her and answer “yes” in a way.
The result of this highly-optimized sales funnel
The result of this over-optimized sales funnel was that the victims of Simon Leviev had no chance of survival.
I don’t know whether he was aware of the power of the marketing levers he used, but in any case what he did was remarkably (and Machiavellian) executed well.
So there are big lessons from this story:
- Create a product or service that your audience needs. It is useless to go ahead without it. If Simon Leviev hadn’t been a charming prince, he wouldn’t have many people to tear up;
- Similarly, position your bait where your target audience is. We do not sell pasta at Bricolex;
- If you want to receive, give. If you want to convert customers into leads in your sales funnel, be generous by offering lots of prices, free samples, ebooks, white papers right from the start… you name it! The possibilities are limitless;
- Don’t hesitate to squeeze everything a little. A limited period or stock, for example, works great;
- But above all, beware of deceptive appearances on social media and dating sites. If it’s too good to be true, it certainly is.