Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Deadspin turns on the lights, sends cockroaches scurrying everywhere

image In the headline for a long investigative blog post, Deadspin writer John Koblin asks:

“Is an ESPN Columnist Scamming People On The Internet?”

… and then proceeds to describe an apparent scam that would make a Russian-speaking hacker blush. The evidence uncovered in the piece suggests that someone named “Sarah Phillips” is in a world of legal hurt right now, with significant civil and criminal liability.

The Cliffs version:

A message board poster on sports betting odds site Covers.com meteorically rose to become a freelance writer for ESPN.com. Along the way, that individual appears to have scammed at least two unsuspecting website owners/contributors out of thousands of dollars; threatened at least one of them and hijacked the ownership of at least one website from its lawful proprietor.

“Phillips” appears to have conspired with at least one other individual to hijack internet accounts and screenshots of chat conversations indicate that she and/her co-conspirators may have extorted money from their victims.

The conspirators also appear to have fraudulently represented themselves as employees of the World Wide Leader.

The Deadspin exposé also casts ESPN.com in a rather embarrassing light—the organization appears to have hired a freelance columnist with little to no due diligence into the individual’s identity or background.

The story is still developing: ESPN has terminated its relationship with “Phillips” and denied that the co-conspirator(s) work or worked for the network. Others she claimed as colleagues or venture partners have disavowed her.

“Phillips” herself is furiously scurrying away, but apparently not covering her tracks very well.

This should be a very interesting story to follow. So far, this thing has been a bombshell-per-day adventure.

UPDATE: The comments section on Phillips’ last blog entry at ESPN.com is Internet Gold.

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