Netflix Documentaries Review

By: Avery Hudkins

Netflix! There’s so much to watch but it’s hard to choose. I recently just had ACL surgery, and if you find yourself at home with nothing to do like me, you should follow my lead and watch these documentaries. What do you have to lose? I chose to review this genre because I believe Netflix has some stellar documentaries. I will be reviewing and giving my overall opinion on The Tinder Swindler and Inventing Anna. Both pertain to fraud and they are interesting stories to learn about. So without further ado, let’s dive in! 

The Tinder Swindler

Starting out strong is The Tinder Swindler. Here we have three lovely women, Cecilie Fjellhoy, Pernilla Sjoholm, and Ayleen Charlotte who all have something in common. They were all manipulated and scammed by the deceivingly charming Simon Leviev. Leviev had it all. From private jets as well as the money and glitz and glamor and good looks he attained everything a lot of women look for in a man in today’s society. So how did this all come about? One word: Tinder. 

Photo credit: The Crimson White

If you are living under a rock and aren’t familiar with the app Tinder let me explain it for you. Tinder is the world’s most popular dating app. If you and another individual see each other’s picture and swipe right it’s a match. Oh my! From there the individuals can message each other and they choose what to do from there. Although I’m sure some amazing relationships have come from this app, Tinder itself can still present a lot of dangers. It’s important to really do some research before meeting up with someone from the app. People can catfish you and pretend to be someone else on the app as well as be a murderer behind a screen who is planning to kill you when you meet up. Don’t believe me? Look up the Mieke Oort case and come back to me. 

Let me give you the rundown. Leviev and his family are involved in the diamond industry. Does LLD Diamonds ring a bell for you? Their family is the real deal when it comes to the diamond industry. He always painted this picture to these poor women that he was always in danger. He had security guards around him in Israel at all times and was always on the lookout. Leviev would show his dates from Tinder (like Fjellhoy) pictures that were sent to him of bullets and funeral flowers. Creepy right?  He always claimed his enemies were sending him these pictures trying to foreshadow something bad. He knew how to instill fear in these women and always seeked their comfort.

Each girl that met him felt this instant connection with him. He was just so easy to talk to. Leviev would go above and beyond for these girls and in one instance he flew out to see Sjoholm in Amsterdam just because she was having a bad day. What woman wouldn’t fall for him?

However, I must criticize one particular action I saw in this documentary. Fjellhoy, after meeting Leviev for the first time in London, agreed to go on Leviev’s private jet with him afterwards. Stranger danger much? Just because you meet someone once and it goes really well does not mean you should ever get on a private jet with them afterwards. I know that sounds so glamorous at first but Fjellhoy should have really thought about the danger that could have come from this. That did not sit well with me in the slightest. 

Leviev asked to use some of the woman’s credit cards as he was in danger and “had enemies” that could track him through his transactions on his card. He would go as far as asking the woman for $25,000 to tide him over in the meantime. He needed it in cash to be untraceable. Some of the girls had to take out loans to complete this task. Talk about a stressful situation. Money doesn’t just grow on trees for some people Leviev!

Leviev then went as far as deleting all his social media accounts and asking one of his girlfriends at the time to make their accounts private to protect himself from any danger. This documentary continues to escalate and keeps you on your toes that’s for sure! 

What is so heartbreaking to me is he would have Fjellhoy take out all these loans for him because “he was in danger” while in the meantime he would be spending this money on vacation with his new beautiful girlfriend Polina who was a Russian model. Fjellhoy did not know about his new girlfriend Polina because she was technically dating him at the time. The drama!  He was scamming Fjellhoy the most, that’s for sure. 

Please watch this documentary. I promise you you will not be bored but instead it will keep you at the edge of your seat. You won’t regret it! I absolutely recommend this Netflix documentary. It is so well done and so factual. You also get to really see the raw emotions of his victims. You can really take away some really good lessons from The Tinder Swindler as well. One lesson that really sticks out to me is not everyone is actually who they seem to be. There are some really evil people out there that are itching every moment to trick and scam people. Be careful out there. The world can be a very scary place ladies and gentlemen! 

Inventing Anna

Next is Inventing Anna. Based on the true story of fake German heiress Anna Sorokin or the “SoHo scammer” who scammed Manhattan out of thousands of dollars, this Netflix original documentary is quite entertaining! Consisting of 9 episodes, Inventing Anna is jam packed with crazy and drama filled scenes. Keep in mind, the majority of this did in fact happen in real life. This miniseries documentary is one of a kind.

Photo Credit: Film Hype

The documentary starts off with the indictment of Anna Sorokin (or Anna Delvey) as she is being charged with so many crimes such as two counts of attempted grand larceny in the first degree, theft of services, and many more horrendous acts of crime. We already get the bad girl vibe from this supposed New York “socialite” Delvey made herself out to be. The first few scenes of the very first episode had me so intrigued. Now I want to know how she managed to pull this off. Who did she know that helped her scheme this much? Where is she now? I had so many questions from the start! 

One very interesting scene in the first episode is a son and mother who seem to be very stressed after the papers exposing Delvey and who she aligned herself with came out. The son tells his mom after she asks if he’s seen the papers that “we never met her.” Interesting.. Is Manhattan full of more scam artists or crooked people than we think? Let’s see how this plays out. 

The documentary then shifts to an eager journalist on Manhattan Magazine named Vivian Kent who is pushing to do an interview with Delvey but has to fight her bosses on it. She decides to go behind their backs and try to do the story anyway. We love a journalist with integrity! Kent believes Delvey reserves the right to have her story told. Kent goes out of her way to reach out to Delvey. The next morning Kent receives a phone call from Delvey who’s in jail. Oh my I can’t wait to see how this turns out. 

A lot of characters in this show claim Delvey embarrassed a lot of banks, hotels, and other businesses in Manhattan. How exactly did she fool an entire city and become a socialite? That was one of my first initial thoughts while watching this. Delvey is the perfect example of  a master manipulator and scam artist to the bone. 

When Kent and Delvey first meet I feel Delvey playing her mind games on Kent right away. Delvey is already an emotional wreck. Kent you can tell is feeling bad for her. “I don’t belong in here,” Delvey keeps saying. These two will definitely be keeping in touch. 

Throughout this documentary it is so fun to see both sides of New York City. You see the hardworking middle class and then there’s the elite socialites who live in an alternate universe apart from the rest of the world. I think what’s even more interesting to think about is that Delvey cheated her way into the socialite world and no one questioned her. 

I love how well done and how excellent the acting is in Inventing Anna. Anything New York in movies or films I’m a sucker for. I think they live such different lives from us to begin with so it’s always fun to get a glimpse into some of their lives. Although Inventing Anna is scripted it is all based on a true story. Anna Delvey in real life is currently being held by ICE custody in upstate New York. The country is trying to decide what to do with this scam artist. 

I highly recommend this documentary! No wonder it’s in the Netflix top ten right now. After watching Inventing Anna you may feel a little bit more knowledgeable about New York’s elite and how Delvey was able to let herself in without blowing her cover for a long time. What are you waiting for? Go watch this miniseries documentary right now! You will not be disappointed. 

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