The report by Deadspin.com also seemed to suggest that the name “Sarah Phillips” is an alias for someone else.
You see, ESPN hired Phillips, who is supposedly a West Coast college student and hardcore gambler, in August of last year after reading some of her work over at popular gambling site, Covers.com. Thing is, no one at Covers or ESPN had ever even MET Phillips face-to-face, and it doesn’t look like ESPN performed a background check prior to hiring her.
The key claims in the Deadspin story focus on Phillips and her partner, Nilesh Prasad, receiving thousands of dollars from two men under seemingly dubious circumstances.
One of the men, identified as “Ben,” was the founder of the site NBA Memes. Phillips allegedly tried to recruit him to form a business relationship of some sort, but the whole process quickly devolved into a kind of Nigerian fraud-like drama. She and Prasad then allegedly stripped “Ben” of administrative rights and started their own page with NBA Memes as a gateway.
The other person, identified as “Matt,” was a Covers.com reader who corresponded with Phillips. “Matt” said he started working with Sarah Phillips on her proposed startup site and also agreed to give Phillips just over $2K to help her buy some advertising for the site.
Phillips then began regularly harassing Matt and demanding more money. At one point, Phillips even threatened to have the LAPD “rob” him to recoup $3,000 she said she lost on a bet she placed on Matt’s advice.
When reached by Deadspin, Phillips declined to comment, saying, “I wish I could, but my editors don’t want me to.”
After ESPN terminated Phillips, she took to Twitter. In a series of tweets, she admitted that she had “concealed” her identity, referring to the multiple signatures she used while writing for Covers. She did not, however, address the allegations in the report from Deadspin.
Here are those tweets (story continues below):
I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that there is no Sarah Phillips.
In fact, this person would seem to be a very shrewd internet marketing guru who knows that people will go out of their way to follow a smoking hot “college student” who writes about sports and gambling.
In fact, it’s already been proven that this person likes to buy up Twitter accounts and have them regurgitate the same messages that Sarah Phillips is sending out.
Case in point – someone astutely noted that the @OhWonka account was echoing some of Sarah’s tweets. See below…
When someone finally called her out on it, she merely claimed to “know the owner” of that account…
Later on, however, Sarah admitted that she liked to buy Twitter accounts and that the @OhWonka account was really being run by her…
Some rather bold individuals even tried to track down where Sarah Phillips lives (which is a BAD idea – don’t do it), and when they got there, no one answered.
So, it would seem that “Sarah Phillips” is merely an internet marketer who’s looking to make a few bucks.
He or she did a pretty good job of pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes for a while, even ESPN. I’m really surprised, though, that such a large company doesn’t do a better job of vetting out its potential employees.
For more on this debacle, head on over to Deadspin.
UPDATE: Then again, maybe Sarah Phillips IS a real person after all. An anonymous Blippitt reader has sent us the following email.
Bear in mind, this information came to us anonymously and it may or may not be true. Read on and decide for yourself…
This email address/persona is fake. I don’t want my name attached to this at all. But I know a lot more about this story than what is currently out there.
First off, you’re on the right track in terms of Oregon. Both Sarah Phillips (her real name) and Nilesh Prasad/Prashad? (his real name) went to Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Therefore the [redacted] High School connection sounds likely.
They are both real and extremly shady. I can tell you where they worked and what illegal activities they were up to before their exploits on twitter and with ESPN.
They both worked for the T-Mobile store in [redacted]. Keep in mind that this was not a T-Mobile corporate store but one owned by Express Locations, a T-Mobile Premium Retail partner based in Utah. Nilesh was the store manager and Sarah was the assistant store manager. For over a year starting some time in 2009 and ending in 2010 when they were both fired their store led the entire business in sales to goal (Express Locations, not T-Mobile). It seemed odd given that they were a small store and their foot traffic was minimal. How they accomplished this is where the juicy details come in. At this point you may want to be checking public records (ie criminal records).
At first they devised a way to get exchange students approved for post paid accounts with t-mobile even though they had no social security numbers. They would then use these new credit accounts with T-Mobile to activate the students phone lines. However they wouldn’t just activate the requested lines, but also extra lines. They would then go on ebay and sell extra lines with discounted phones at discounted prices if people submitted their personal information. They would activate the new customers using the students credit lines and ship the phones. You can imagine how many laws/t-mobile policies this broke (contact T-Mobile at this point? Express Locations?). Given that they were a small store and everyone was in on it they could “sell” the phones in the system at whatever price they wanted and they would keep the money they actually charged the customers as profit in cash.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of their shady business practices at T-Mobile (express locations). Eventually their performance was just too consistently outrageous to be ignored and the company started to investigate. You could say Nilesh was the master mind but Sarah was in on it the entire way and by the end was a very willing co-conspirator. When they were fired there was found at the store boxes and boxes of inventory (cases, screen protectors, phones, car chargers, etc) that was no longer in the system. They would force the other employees to buy them so they would all hit performance metrics. This is where you can see how messed up these two really are. If it was about making money that part makes no sense, indeed they could have had variable sales numbers and kept up the charade much longer and been much richer. But they were/are young and their egos got in the way. They always had to be the best and believed they lived in a separate untouchable world. I lost track of them after they were fired but today was pointed to this story by a friend and I can’t say any of it is surprising. At this point they have been at this so long that there sense of reality must be completely out of whack. They think they exist in a different world. Nilesh does have a brother…that used to work at AT&T I believe.
Good luck with this info.
More Blippitt reader mail:
i am a member of covers.com i have been a member for over 1 year . started communicating with sarah over 1 year ago.
she gave me several winning plays in college and pro football, baseball , and college basketball. she absolutely hates to be wrong or to be corrected.
as we got to know each other better, she started sending me private messages and told me more about her. she told me that as a teenager she was number one sales person for t mobile in the US and was making 150,000 per year. i still have those messages unless/until covers deletes them.
- Is An ESPN Columnist Scamming People On The Internet? [Video] (deadspin.com)
- ESPN cuts ties with freelancer accused of possible illegal activities (aol.sportingnews.com)
- Is ESPN’s Sarah Phillips A Front For A Scam? (rantsports.com)