A wannabe Silicon Valley socialite and businesswoman hoodwinked her way into the upper echelons of the tech elite by photo-shopping herself into pictures with celebrities and making up job titles that she never held.
Shirley Hornstein, who describes herself as an 'Angel Investor and (dare I say) Entrepreneur' posted doctored pictures of herself with Justin Timberlake and comedian Andy Samberg, claiming to have met them at parties across San Francisco.
So successful was her self promotion and name dropping, that Hornstein even managed to score herself a top-40 placing on a list of the most influential women investing in technology in Silicon Valley, which was republished in Forbes.
Mixing with Hollywood geek heroes such as Avengers director Joss Whedon and Buffy The Vampire Slayer star Eliza Dushku, Hornstein's social chameleon act was exposed when she began to boast of working for Silicon Valley guru and Napster creator Sean Parker.
Sean Parker's Founders Fund took legal action against the would-be tech investor to stop her from ever claiming that she worked for them according to Gawker.Com.
'Beginning no later than July of 2011. Ms. Hornstein engaged in a 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,' read the legal filing.
'In fact, Ms. Hornstein is not now, nor has she ever been, an employee or business partner of Founders Fund or any Founders Fund Partner or executive.'
Her false claims were discovered through a blog posting she made on the Women 2.0 site where Hornstein says she 'has experience working with a number of Silicon Valley companies, including iMeem, Nitro PDF, Dropbox, and Founders Fund.'
The post has since been taken down.
The complaint also states, 'On September 16, 2011, Ms. Hornstein again claimed employment at Founders Fund in an electronic communication to a major entrepreneurial networking company. That representation was likewise false.'
Tech Crunch, which revealed the duplicitous boasts of Hornstein outlined how she operated after investigating her various claims.
Anecdotes on Hornstein all began with name dropping and invariably led to her getting introductions to those involved at the very highest levels of Silicon Valley start ups and established firms.
Promising introductions that never materialized, Hornstein would eventually be caught out, allegedly harming the reputations of those who trusted her.
One commenter at the Hacker News forum offered this as evidence of what meeting Hornstein entailed.
'I've meet Shirley a handful of times, through mutual friends and founders here in SF,' said the posting.
'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 meet her, I was super skeptical; always felt like something was really off with her.
'She mentioned she knew the founders at Dropbox, and even said that she had stock in Dropbox and sold it, and made quite a nice sum of money. Again, all the while I was super skeptical.'
Last week, however, Hornstein apologized for her actions on her blog - and promised to change her behavior.
'In short, my house of cards collapsed. After TechCrunch outed me as a liar and (ab)user of photoshop, I was subjected to the humiliation and judgement from people I have never met and probably never will.
'More articles surfaced, and my entire credibility was essentially erased. I lost my job. My friends. My life came crashing done on me. I was devastated, confused and ashamed of myself.
'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.
'Fake it ‘til you make it, right? I was so lost.'
I thought I'd share because the 'shops are so bad lmao. Have any of you lied to get a job? Share your stories!