Sarah Phillips, a former columnist for ESPN.com, has a story that is full of twists, scams and deceptions.
ESPN abruptly ended its association with the sports gambling columnist Sarah Phillips Tuesday, just hours after the release of an online story that included claims that Sarah Phillips and a partner, Nilesh Prasad, may have committed fraud and extortion.
Deadspin.com broke the story about the ESPN contributor allegedly being involved in Internet scams and perhaps using a false identity. The story included accusations that Sarah Phillips had connections to a series of fake celebrity Twitter accounts and alleged attempts to purchase others’ Twitter accounts and buy followers.
Sarah Phillips was hired by ESPN.com to write a weekly column, Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics, after working five months as a columnist for Covers.com.
The story of Sarah Phillips is layered with deceptions, grandiose promises, shady dealings and past exploits with her supposed cohort Nilesh Prasad. Some stories out this week have questioned whether Sarah Phillips exists at all, but Internet sleuths (and people who have been burned by this girl in the past) have determined that she is a 22 year-old from Oregon. They have also determined that she and Nilesh Prasad may be romantically involved.
Sarah Phillips and Nilesh Prasad worked together previously at a T-Mobile store, but they were reportedly fired for exploiting loopholes and selling phones outside of the stores.
Deadspin readers who claim to be from the same hometown as Sarah Phillips have been messaging the site with loads of details. First of all, Nilesh Prasad met Sarah Phillips when he was a senior in high school, and she was in eighth grade—still in middle school. The two began dating shortly after.
After the Sarah Phillips story started to unfold on the Internet, more and more people began to come forward with personal information about the “real” Sarah Phillips. First of all, the photo that ran with her early columns on Covers.com are not photos of Sarah Phillips. They are photos of a girl named Ivy Smith who went to the same high school as Sarah Phillips.
Another person came forward claiming to have been scammed out of $5,000 by Sarah Phillips under the pretenses of being featured on a website she was “building.” The website was never completed, and after the man made threats to take legal action, Sarah Phillips deactivated her email account and blocked him on Twitter.
As the story winds around he-said-she-said accounts and various layers this and the pair’s past is peeled back, it is unclear how long it will take for the details of Sarah Phillips’ story to come out. For now, her schemes have been derailed, and it seems that the notoriety of this story will finally put a stop to people trusting in this deceitful duo.
While ESPN’s hiring process has been considered thorough in the past, it appears to have failed them this time.
“Sarah Phillips provided the information necessary to contribute to us. We will review this instance and see if anything needs to be changed with our process,” ESPN.com’s editor-in-chief Patrick Stiegman said in a brief statement.
Sarah Phillips took to her Twitter account this week to provide the following commentary about the story:
“I never wanted to be in sports media. It just happened. I concealed my identity so I wasn’t a “gambler” to future employers.”
“My avatar is me. My YouTube video is me. I enjoyed my time with ESPN. They were great to me.”
“I have severed ties with many people today. I need a new circle. I need to get back to being a 22-year-old.”
“Today was a good day. I was able to evaluate everything and move away from sports media. You live and learn. I’m just a fan now.”
In all, Sarah Phillips tweeted 14 times on May 1, the day she was let go from ESPN.