A businesswoman’s career and life came crumbling down after it was revealed she photoshopped herself into pictures with celebrities in an effort to make others believe she was working and socializing with them.
Shirley Hornstein described herself as an “Angel Investor and (dare I say) Entrepreneur” and claimed to have met and mingled with celebrities like Justin Timberlake and Andy Sandberg.
Her self promotion ended up being successful, as she managed to get onto the top-40 list of the most influential women investing in technology in Silicon Valley.
But her act was soon exposed when she started claiming she worked for Silicon Valley guru and Napster creator Sean Parker.
His Founders Fund took legal action on her to stop her from claiming she worked for them.
“Beginning no later than July of 2011, Ms. Hornstein engaged in pattern of conduct, which includes making false and misleading written and oral representations, designed to deceive potential business partners and employers into believing that she had prior and/or ongoing business and employment connections to Founders Fund and its partners,” a legal filing read.
“In fact, Ms. Hornstein is not now, nor has she ever been, an employee or business partner or Founders Fund or any Founders Fund Partner or executive.”
The company discovered her false claims when she posted a blog that said she had “experience working with a number of Silicon Valley companies, including iMeem, Nitro PDF, Dropbox, and Founders Fund.”
One commenter on Hacker News forum explained how deceitful and awkward meeting Hornstein was.
“I’ve met Shirley a handful of times, through mutual friends and founders here in SF,” a posting said. “Every time we hung out, she would tell elaborate stories of meeting so and so, or being friends with Sean Parker or Justin Timberlake. Almost immediately, the first time I met her, I was super skeptical; always felt like something was really off with her.”
After news broke out of her deceit, she released a statement regretting what she had done.
“Deep down I knew this would happen eventually because you can’t build your life based on lies, but what did I do to stop it? I told more lies, created more elaborate stories, abused trust that been given to me and pretended that everything was going to be okay,” she said.
“Fake it ‘till you make it, right? I was so lost.”