Woman ‘Shops Herself Into Photos of the Rich and Famous, Fools Silicon Valley


Here’s a bizarre tale of Photoshop and fraud: Back in August of 2012, TechCrunch published a piece accusing a young woman named Shirley Hornstein of tricking Silicon Valley with Photoshopped photographs. By inserting herself into other people’s snapshots with the rich and famous, and by using made-up job titles and citing non-existent connections, Hornstein was able to wiggle into inner circles of the valley’s tech elite.

In addition to duping people into believing she was one of the tech industry’s most well-connected individuals, Hornstein also managed to get her name onto lists of top women investors.

Her façade began to crumble, though, when it came to light that many of her pictures with celebrities are actually ‘shop jobs. Here are a couple more examples of her faked photos:



Hornstein published an honest apology earlier this week, confessing to everything she’s accused of and promising 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.

We have to say, ethical issues aside, it’s rather impressive that Hornstein’s Photoshop skills fooled so many people for so long. Perhaps she can now transition into a career in photo retouching.

  • Banan Tarr

    This may not have been a case of “fooling” people as much as people wanting to believe her so not even bothering to check, just IMHO.

  • branden rio

    The fact that you can “wiggle your way into the tech elite” without actually ever working at a tech company or accomplishing anything innovative really shouldn’t surprise me.

  • Mansgame

    I think it’s just sad that she is so self absorbed that she has to photoshop herself into pictures just to get attention.

  • Cloke

    This chick must have major issues.

  • Sean Simpson

    the proper title is “Social Media Expert”

  • 9inchnail

    Isn’t is sad that this got her a job? We don’t care who you are or what you can do, you know famous people. That’s all the qualification we need.

    Why even bother going to school? If you want a good job, you need connections. You don’t make those in school.

  • Samcornwell

    I kind of wish that this wasn’t the full story, and that Hornstein was doing some kind of clever and elaborate stunt. It’s impressive that she got as far as she did.

  • bob cooley

    “…my entire credibility was essentially erased”…

    Wait, what credibility? It was all a stack of lies.

  • Dixon Marshall

    This was a great hoax. Too bad the perpetrator was two floors shy of the elevator. Had I been in her place, I would have said “gotcha!” when I was finally caught.

  • splashtrack

    she’s an horrible retoucher…

  • anise

    She should have just written it off as “high art”

  • AlienDan

    Isnt it sad that people like you like to be in pictures with famous people? No, because it’s human nature to want to be seen with popular people because it makes them more popular to.