@GSElevator tweets: Embarrassment for Goldman Sachs as Twitter ‘mole’ turns out to be a fake despite bank launching in-house investigation

The tweets that began appearing three years ago were not actually posted by an employee of the bank, but by a former bond executive living in Texas

New York

If we’ve devoured the postings of @GSElevator on Twitter it’s because they confirm our own prejudices about Wall Street bankers and the bull dung banter they engage in, aggrandising their over-compensated selves and demeaning the rest of us. So it’s a shame to discover it’s been bull dung all along too.

Since they started to appear on Twitter three years ago, the premise behind the tweets has been very clear. We were reading the exchanges that actually take place between employees of Goldman Sachs in the bank’s offices in New York, London and Hong Kong. “I never give money to homeless people. I can’t reward failure in good conscience.” That sort of thing.

Also funny – perhaps even more so now – is how they sent the famously stiff-shirted managers at Goldman into, well, a twitter. Before long a full-blown in-house investigation was launched to discover who among their employees was making cheap fun of the bank online. They hated that the account accumulated over 600,000 followers. It didn’t help when a big publisher signed on recently to turn the posts into a book.

Now fans of @GSElevator are learning – maybe some had already guessed – that the person responsible is not on the Goldman payroll at all. Rather he is a 34-year-old former bond executive living in Texas called John Lefevre. Upon being unmasked by the New York Times on Monday, he responded: “Frankly, I’m surprised it has taken this long. I knew this day would come.”

The escapade is a parable of the perils of the social networking age. Arguably no investment bank works harder to protect its reputation than Goldman Sachs. That it took so seriously the mockery of a Twitter account that was essentially faked makes it look more foolish than ever. Mr Lefevre has found out you can’t stay anonymous forever. The publishers are left with a real-life book that isn’t.

The fraud wasn’t total. Mr Lefevre was offered a job with Goldman in 2010 but negotiations fell apart. He did work, however, for Citibank for seven years in London and New York and says his postings were indeed mostly reflective of actual exchanges between colleagues he heard while in the business. Moreover, he never claimed directly to be a Goldman employee.

“This was never about me as a person,” he explained to the New York Times. “It wasn’t about a firm. The stories aren’t Goldman Sachs in particular. It was about the culture in general.” He added: “I went into investment banking and I saw a group of people that aren’t as impressive as I thought they were – or as impressive as they thought they were. They defined themselves as human beings by their jobs.”

The publisher, Touchstone, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, says it wasn’t duped. “He’s been pretty straight with us the entire time, so this is not a surprise,” said the book’s editor, Matthew Benjamin.

“What matters is that every story in the book is true,” concurred his agent Byrd Leavell. “The book isn’t going to live or die on whether he worked at Goldman Sachs.”

As for Goldman, it has perhaps wisely responded to the unmasking with a dash of humour. “We are pleased to report that the official ban on talking in elevators will be lifted effective immediately,” joked a spokesman. That was a joke, wasn’t it?

@GSElevator: The tweets

* My garbage disposal eats better than 98% of the world.

* There are only 2 paths to happiness in life. Stupidity or exceptional wealth.

* The only thing more impressive than my accomplishments is my résumé.

* #1: “Was that an earthquake?” #2: “No, I just dropped my wallet.”

* When it doesn’t matter how much the drinks cost, it’s always Happy Hour

* #1: Hey, do you have change for a $20? #2: $20’s are change, bro.

* If you ever worry about what senior management think about you, just remember: we aren’t thinking about you.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sewing Technician

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leader in Medical Devices is...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner & Wood Machinist

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This busy local Joinery company...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence