Some readers may remember the story that appeared recently about a startup that was said to have been masterminded by a Sarah Hanson, a 19-year-old who auctioned of 10% of her future income to fund her startup and obtained a $125,000 from a California investor.
We didn’t cover the story on Buzz Patrol, but it did feature on numerous other tech sites including GeekWire, who have since researched the story and discovered that the whole thing is a hoax!!
The man behind the hoax is a man named Steinar Skipsnes and he admits the whole thing was an attempt to get publicity for his startup, which he claims is real!
After GeekWire discovered his real identity, they called him and left him a voicemail, so far though, he has only communicated with them via email. Skipsnes claims that the startup, Senior Living Map, does exist, however GeekWire states that they couldn’t find any evidence supporting its existence apart from the bare-bones site that was the subject of the fake “Sarah Hanson” auction.GeekWire states that the photo that Skipsnes used to be Sarah Hanson actually resembles his wife at a younger age, but he had not yet responded to GeekWire’s questions about the identity of the woman in the picture and how she felt about being used as part of his hoax.
GeekWire also point out that Skipsnes has done this sort of thing before, pointing to attempts he made to drum up attention for another startup, Replyboard, which was a Craigslist user review and rating service. Skipsnes recorded obscure interactions with Craigslist sellers and remained adamant that they were real and not staged despite the fact that they appeared to be scripted. They proved to be popular on YouTube, getting thousands of views. Eventually Skipsnes did admit to giving a false name for his accomplice. In 2011 he posted a fake job opening for a company that didn’t exist and then filmed applicants giving unusual responses. He’s also carried out numerous other dodgy maneuvers leading GeekWire to ask if anything about this man can actually be believed.
Basically, I guess that the moral of this story is that if you are interested in investing in a startup, make damn sure this guy isn’t involved before you do because he has a penchant for hoaxes and enjoys trying to manipulate the media!