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The Worldwide Leader
May 1, 2012 3:43 PM   Subscribe

Is ESPN columnist Sarah Phillips scamming people on the internet? Eight months ago, a writer who specializes in sports-betting was hired by ESPN, sight-unseen. Fast-forward six months and accusations are swirling that she is either not who she says she is, or she is using her platform to grift internet gamblers and content creators. A story that's about fifty percent JT Leroy and fifty percent Nigerian prince.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates (98 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Former-ESPN columnist Sarah Phillips.
posted by inigo2 at 3:49 PM on May 1, 2012


Former? Since wh-

Oh. Well, that was fast.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:52 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh. Well, that was fast.

I'm just as surprised ESPN jumped on top of this already. And I didn't mean my comment to poo on this post; I literally just finished reading the story before popping over here. It's pretty fascinating.
posted by inigo2 at 3:55 PM on May 1, 2012


Seriously, former? I liked reading her stuff. Why was she let go?
posted by King Bee at 3:56 PM on May 1, 2012


I'm just as surprised ESPN jumped on top of this already

Yeah, they did it in the time I was creating the post. And the original Deadspin article was published at 4:37PM. So, really quick. Obviously someone over there realized how bad this looks. Or maybe they already had their own suspicions.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:00 PM on May 1, 2012


Seriously, former? I liked reading her stuff. Why was she let go?

Did you read the article linked in the OP?
posted by gyc at 4:00 PM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I commented and am now reading. Yes, I am a failure.
posted by King Bee at 4:01 PM on May 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


My first thoughts were along the lines of "they hired someone who is clearly a gambling addict and who writes about her gambling addiction and now we're surprised she has shady money-seeking behaviors"? Which is almost certainly unfair to gambling addicts in general, but still... addictions that require lots of money tend to lead people to do less-than-great things to get money.
posted by brainmouse at 4:16 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


My favorite part of the article is when it's revealed that she's really good at gambling on WNBA games. That seems like a throw away joke in a 30 Rock episode or something.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:19 PM on May 1, 2012 [17 favorites]


I hope that kid Ben can get his page back. I would think if nothing else, Facebook would want to resolve this now, given the press.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 4:27 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked that someone who's hobby involves international money laundering might be on the shady side.

Since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 passed it's illegal for companies to take money from Americans for the purposes of Gambling online. Before that, it was illegal to operate an online casino in the U.S, but you could do it overseas, and lots of people did. Online poker, for example was actually blowing up before the law passed.

After that, the companies that moved money for Americans were targeted. It's still not illegal to play, but in order to do so you have to, essentially, engage in money laundering - at least as far as I know. I'm not sure if you, personally are legally liable but you have to do sneak the money across borders surreptitiously.

And of course the skills you develop doing that would make it really easy to scam money out of people.
By this point, the nature of that connection had changed a little. She was no longer writing about gambling—or what she'd euphemistically called, in her debut column, "sports from a statistical and point-spread perspective." In October, she tweeted a photo showing 13 betting tickets. The tweet was deleted shortly thereafter (you can view it here), and a month later, when a follower on Twitter asked where she made her bets, she responded, "Betting is illegal. I don't make bets."
Yeah, see what I mean. The entire basis of her employment was her expertise in something she later claimed was illegal.

I don't know the exact laws, I'm not sure if it's technically against U.S. law to make bets on foreign websites, but it is illegal someone transfer your money for you to do so.
posted by delmoi at 4:41 PM on May 1, 2012


Update, 6 p.m.: Sarah Phillips has been let go by ESPN. An ESPN spokesman just told me: "We've ended our freelance relationship with her." Phillips tweets:
:(
Seems like the tweet has now been deleted, which is too bad, because that was one of the more poignant uses of the little noseless guy I've seen.
posted by saturday_morning at 4:42 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


My favorite part of the article is when it's revealed that she's really good at gambling on WNBA games. That seems like a throw away joke in a 30 Rock episode or something.
It makes sense, If it doesn't get a lot of attention from other really good gablers, it might make sense that you'd be able to clean up from all the noobs.
posted by delmoi at 4:48 PM on May 1, 2012


A Sarah J. Phillips is listed in the student directory at Oregon State, as is a Nilesh Prasad, though we can't be sure these two are our protagonists.

I would hope they are—if only because if they aren't, that's another two people who are about to be dragged across Google unnecessarily.

An ESPN spokesman just told me: "We've ended our freelance relationship with her."

I assume that nobody at ESPN thinks that's going to suffice for an explanation, and that they're presently investigating to issue a longer statement.
posted by cribcage at 4:51 PM on May 1, 2012


If it doesn't get a lot of attention from other really good gablers

Or gamblers, even.
posted by delmoi at 4:54 PM on May 1, 2012


Not that there isn't plenty of reason to suspect something fishy here, but I thought it was odd that they kept emphasizing that the ESPN folks hadn't met her in person. People transact business over the internet all the time without face to face meetings; I'd hazard that there are probably people working for Deadspin that none of the others have met in real life.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:55 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


"She said I owed her that money in addition to thousands more for reasons unbeknownst to me," he told Deadspin. "She said if I didn't paypal it to her that night she would have the LAPD come to my apartment and rob me. I told her I don't carry cash, and kept a hunting knife by my bed for three weeks." (According to a screengrab of a Gchat conversation, she told him the LAPD would "cordially come by" his apartment to take the money).

Lol. I don't think either of these people understand how the LAPD works. Although I suppose if someone were really nuts, they might send fake cops by to scam them out of money.

That aspect of the story is very bizarre. She asked him for a pick, then when she lost, she tried to bill him for it?
posted by delmoi at 5:08 PM on May 1, 2012


Horace, having a go at ESPN is Deadspin's specialty. I'm sure they don't want to be accused of implying ESPN was knowingly involved in a scam.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 5:13 PM on May 1, 2012


Maybe this was all part of her undergraduate research dissertation on the Psychology of the Hustle. I'm impressed. But she should give the money back now.
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:26 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, she can always fall back on her ability to pick WNBA games.
posted by sy at 5:27 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I read these stories about clashes between people over online stuff, there's always some link to an incriminating gchat in which the principals are very nasty to each other, and acting as though it's just an everyday thing to be nasty to other people on gchat. And I always marvel at how different some people's existences are from mine.
posted by jayder at 5:33 PM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Jeez, what a sociopath.

Also, I can't be the only one who was expecting a M Night Shayamalan-esque twist where it turned out that "Sarah Phillips" was actually the online persona of Nilesh Prasad.
posted by lunasol at 5:49 PM on May 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


I really wonder what possesses people to seemingly deliberately do something so sociopathic and seemingly difficult as to hijack another person's website with seemingly nary a thought for moral considerations. Where do people like this come from? What makes them? How do they find each other? How do they sleep at night? So weird.
posted by jayder at 5:53 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


She and her cohort sound like terrible people, and I feel bad for the poor 19-year-old kid, Ben, who was probably too young and naive to realize he was being hustled. But I had to shake my head when reading the account of this Matt character who, being in his 30s, you would think had enough life experience to realize that sending thousand upon thousands of dollars to a random person you know only on the Internet based on the promise of being a partner in a harebrained business venture is probably unwise.

A fool and his money, if it's too good to be true, etc....
posted by The Gooch at 5:54 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


being in his 30s, you would think had enough life experience

I don't think one follows from the other. Also, nobody is ever too experienced or too savvy to fall for a con. Everybody is vulnerable sometimes. Be careful, yes. Be smart, yes. But the more appropriate cliche is, "There but for the grace of God..."
posted by cribcage at 6:00 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man this Ben kid got completely shafted, it's easy to see how someone could get scammed easily by someone would be way more credulous if the person they're talking to is an ESPN employee.
I really wonder what possesses people to seemingly deliberately do something so sociopathic and seemingly difficult as to hijack another person's website with seemingly nary a thought for moral considerations.
Interestingly though, the less you physically 'experience' someone the easier it is to be, well, mean to them. You're probably familiar with the milgram experiment. When the fake subject was in the same room with the subject, they were much less likely to administer the shock. When they were farther away and had less 'experience' of them, more people administered the shock.

So if you interact with someone only online, it's much "easier" to be mean to them. You only see them as text, rather then how you would feel if you saw them in person.
posted by delmoi at 6:01 PM on May 1, 2012


I really wonder what possesses people to seemingly deliberately do something so sociopathic and seemingly difficult as to hijack another person's website with seemingly nary a thought for moral considerations. Where do people like this come from? What makes them? How do they find each other? How do they sleep at night? So weird.

Not to be snarky, but are you familiar with the concept of "crime?"

Seriously though, I think most of us accept that things like murder exist, because they're so far outside our daily experience they become almost academic. But when someone is slightly rude to us or does something like this, we're all like, "HOW CAN PEOPLE ACT LIKE THAT???"
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:02 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I really hate being cynical but you have to be in many cases. I know people who have fallen victim to scams because of an emotional barrier (namely they trust in the goodness of others) rather than a lack of intelligence, coupled with being in vulnerable or needy situations as well. I hope this story and others serve as an example to learn by for those who would be scammed.

I know such things are relative and all, but if someone is a big Jersey Shore fan, shouldn't that be a massive red flag?
posted by juiceCake at 6:04 PM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


The other thing - it's possible this Nilesh Prasad might have been the "mastermind" - I would bet that they're dating, but it sounds like most of the actual scamming, at least with respect to Ben was done by Nilesh. With Matt, though - Sarah was clearly the one doing the scamming.
posted by delmoi at 6:07 PM on May 1, 2012


I kind of get the feeling that maybe her dad is behind this, considering she is using his address and things like that
posted by holdkris99 at 7:06 PM on May 1, 2012


I'm about to diverge from the main plot in a big way but maybe someone will like coming along for the ride.

In the video of Sarah Phillips, she offers a free pair headphones for a joke contest, and they are Beats by Dr. Dre, which list for $350. They are made by Monster Electronics. Yes, the same dudes who make the cables.

They are high-gloss, often candy-colored headphones that look really very nice. You could coordinate them with all your clothes if you wanted. In fact, I have faith that I would personally look like an arctic fox when wearing a set. Too bad they offer a sound not much superior to the set of $10 Sonys I am currently using because, you know, cash rules everything around me.

This is truly a tale of bullshit down to the smallest incidental. If you have thing about being a bullshit completist, it rewards a leisurely read.
posted by melissa may at 7:13 PM on May 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Man. ESPN must have some money to throw at potential Web contributors (and a big mandate to find the "next big writer"), 'cause damn. They moved fast in snapping her up, and even faster in getting rid of her.
posted by limeonaire at 7:37 PM on May 1, 2012


Not sure they really need money to throw at writers - clearly if Sarah Phillips's writing was compelling, they would have fought this, right? She clearly ripped off a couple of people - got some money and admin access to a valuable commodity, and that's why she's getting the boot.

Without reading much of her actual online contributions (or her gambling Win-Loss record) into account, it seems like ESPN thought she might be more of an asset at the whole "Web 2.0" game, where their online presence could be stronger (it's funny that almost everyone I know has a Yahoo! account solely to play fantasy football).

But ESPN definitely needs the next Bill Simmons (or similar internet commodity - there are tons of quality sites/podcasts out there) if they want to remain "The Worldwide Leader", though maybe there's more money to be made in providing "quality" gambling-related insights (to push the public/casual bettors in one direction) /tinfoilhat
posted by antonymous at 7:55 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting. I just moved to Corvallis, and considered taking residence at Grand Oaks. Fucking expensive place though. Probably the 2nd most expensive complex in town. And it's barely "in town." Definitely not your usual student hovel, but I could see some kids taking on crazy loans to live large for a few years there.
posted by pwnguin at 7:59 PM on May 1, 2012


Not sure they really need money to throw at writers - clearly if Sarah Phillips's writing was compelling, they would have fought this, right?
Are you kidding? She was using her relationship with ESPN to scam people. They wouldn't keep her around if she was the next Hunter S. Thompson. She was just a sports writer. It might be difficult to find a pretty girl who's interested in arcane sports statistics that only gamblers care about. That's probably an unusual combination of attributes. But there's no way it's worth this much trouble.
posted by delmoi at 8:02 PM on May 1, 2012


Also, I can't be the only one who was expecting a M Night Shayamalan-esque twist where it turned out that "Sarah Phillips" was actually the online persona of Nilesh Prasad.

Having read what there is to read so far on this story, and in the spirit of the events concerned, I am willing to offer anyone interested a $10 bet on my gut instinct that this is indeed exactly the case.
posted by chaff at 8:06 PM on May 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Or rather, to clarify, that Sarah, Nilesh, and Navin are all one person, possibly using the names and identity details of real people to bolster the scam. Or maybe I just love reading about this kind of thing a little too much...
posted by chaff at 8:11 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was suggesting that she took advantage of her "position" with ESPN to further her own goals, but that said skill could be useful to ESPN had they chosen to keep her on staff. This thing could've easily flown under the radar if not for the anti-ESPN bias (and sleuthing!) over at Deadspin. She's not worth the trouble only if she gets caught.

Also, for those interested, the facebook page she created with those sports "memes" has been removed, which is too bad because it was hilariously amateurish.
posted by antonymous at 8:15 PM on May 1, 2012


Not to be snarky, but are you familiar with the concept of "crime?"

Ha ha. I'm actually a criminal defense attorney.

And yes, knowing crime, I know that criminals usually don't pull tricky, complicated shit like stealing some guy's website to drive traffic to their own, especially when they are fairly easy to find.
posted by jayder at 8:18 PM on May 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


If this fraud had a couple more layers of deception and had gone on longer, it would have been a perfect topic for a Janet Malcolm story.
posted by jayder at 8:24 PM on May 1, 2012


So, if anyone notices that the NBA Memes page gets handed back to the original owner could you post an update here?
posted by oddman at 8:25 PM on May 1, 2012


Looks like he got it back.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:28 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


jayder, I suspect it's some of what everyone above says PLUS they assume that no one "real," ie, a judge, jury, prosecutor or even a lawyer is going to do anything but scoff when a kid approaches and says "my web site was taken from me."
posted by maxwelton at 9:04 PM on May 1, 2012


But, yes, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think there is a strong undercurrent in American society, though, that believes if it involves making a buck, immoral ruthlessness is an admirable quality.
posted by maxwelton at 9:06 PM on May 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aftermath. In tweet form.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:46 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not a victim

I'm glad she cleared that up.
posted by cribcage at 9:59 PM on May 1, 2012


I was suggesting that she took advantage of her "position" with ESPN to further her own goals, but that said skill could be useful to ESPN had they chosen to keep her on staff.
Yeah, I think you are way overestimating the value of an individual writer. Unless that writer is a "brand name" they're really disposable. They can probably find some cute statistics grad student to take her place, or any of the non-cute male gamblers out there who are capable of writing about gambling in an engaging way.
Having read what there is to read so far on this story, and in the spirit of the events concerned, I am willing to offer anyone interested a $10 bet on my gut instinct that this is indeed exactly the case.
There was at least one video of her. Plus, my impression is that she actually met the people at ESPN. I'm not sure. But either way there is a video of her.

I think most people have a bias that says a cute girl isn't going to a cunning scam artist, and she is cute and seems to have a sunny disposition. So it is weird. But she was obviously involved herself. I've read that female sociopaths tend to be much more likely to just be scammers and grifters, rather then axe murderers.
Or rather, to clarify, that Sarah, Nilesh, and Navin are all one person, possibly using the names and identity details of real people to bolster the scam. Or maybe I just love reading about this kind of thing a little too much...
Since there's a video of Sarah, we know she's in on it. But we have no idea how much coordination there was between Nilesh and Sarah on the NBA memes scam. It could have been all Nilesh, after Sarah made the introduction.

But here's the thing – what if it was all Sarah. What if she kind of knew the guy, but made up the whole thing about him being an ESPN executive and then as him went in for the kill in order to give herself plausible deniability. It looks like she's now trying to blame that guy in the followup.

If you think about it, it's almost like a Schrödinger's cat situation: Given the information we have Nilesh could be Nilesh or Sarah, and Sarah could be Nilesh or Sarah. Either one of them could be one or the other or both. They're like in a quantum superposition of each other.

You know who she reminds me of: Sarah Palin. Hear me out there. Someone made a joke during the '08 campaign about McCain being an old guy who'd been conned by a "family of grifters". It was funny, because Palin seemed to have trouble telling reality from fiction. She would say completely different things and then act shocked when people called her out.

But the thing is, before she hit the "Big Time" none of this stuff had any detrimental effect on Palin, but once she did, suddenly not only did those methods no longer work – they completely blew up in her face.

I think for this Sarah P. (Philips), things might have gone in a similar way. She's cute, and she's also a problem gambler, and because of that she's able to basically scam money out of people easily. This is probably even easier in the gambling world, with people passing money back and forth over bets and stuff. She's able to get cash out of people.

At some point along the way she hooks up with Nilesh... or invents him He's the "bad cop". Scamming people gets even easier. She's the bait, she attracts some internet notoriety and people become her fans. She's the bait, and "he" moves in for the kill. Not that she doesn't make demands as well.

But here's the thing. Like Sarah Palin, she ended up being so good at it, and being so lucky, that she moved up to the "bigtime". But she didn't realize that the world had shifted and the rules had changed. So she keeps operating the same way. Because of her position and "power" she's now able to pull off even greater scams. Stealing the NBA meme's Facebook page, for example. She doesn't realize that she's going to draw way to much attention and get completely burned.

And the thing is, if she had she could have let things cool off, she could actually have worked with the Ben kid without scamming him and without lying about the numbers and helped to build up the sports site and so on. Just like Palin could have been a conventional if boring political player and made millions as a lobbyist rather then as a reality TV star.

Oh well.
Looks like he got it back.
Uh dude, that's "MLB Memes" not "NBA Memes" NBA Memes seems to be up, and not redirecting to the other page, but there's no mention of the events.

BTW Facebook is absolutely the worst platform for this. Half the pictures are cut off so you can't even read the damn captions. And of course FB applies a shitload of JPG compression to the images, makes them look like total crap.
posted by delmoi at 10:29 PM on May 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


cribcage: "I'm glad she cleared that up."

The night is still young. =(
posted by pwnguin at 10:39 PM on May 1, 2012


I just came for the NBA memes but that facebook feed isn't funny in the least. Unlike this.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:41 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh dude, that's "MLB Memes" not "NBA Memes" NBA Memes seems to be up, and not redirecting to the other page, but there's no mention of the events.

No, he's thanking MLB Memes for helping him get NBA Memes back. At any rate, the "aftermath" link has Sarah Phillips claiming she gave the page back to Ben.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:42 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the update:
UPDATE #3: Hey, why wait until the morning! Two more things for now. First, go read this from Nilsen Report. It's a gripping breakdown, complete with screenshots, of one person's shady dealings with "Sarah Phillips." It's completely nuts, and we probably haven't heard the last of this one, either.
Ugh, the link is dead :( Aughgh.
posted by delmoi at 10:44 PM on May 1, 2012


Ah wait, it's working again. I got a 503 previously.

I also find it somewhat fascinating that people are arbitrarily just buying twitter accounts, paying people to follow each-other and all other kind of craziness. Check out the initial email she sent. It's just a price list: get me this many followers, you get this much cash. And that wasn't even something the guy thought was the least bit shady at all, and then he just offers to sell her the account.

The only problem was that she didn't pay him. I guess I'm naive, but I had no idea people were just buying and selling twitter handles like that. Seems like it kind of breaks the social contract of twitter, people expect that they are following individuals or at least brands - not that their attention is a commodity being bought and sold for a couple hundred bucks. Apparently about 25¢/ follower.
posted by delmoi at 10:54 PM on May 1, 2012


delmoi, that Sarah Phillips/Sarah Palin comparison is completely brilliant.
posted by lunasol at 11:01 PM on May 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


delmoi: " Ugh, the link is dead :( Aughgh."

I managed to get through on refresh. Summary: "Sarah" offers guy money for followers. Guy decides to sell her an account he has with 2000 followers to meet the goal, but is never paid. Months later said account gets a massive boost in followers with "Sarah"'s introduction to ESPN, and threatens to take back the account via password reset. Legal posturing is made, "This isn't Sarah" (but using sarah's gmail) claims to be a professional lawyer for the past 21 years, and that they'll give the account back and sue for 2.1m in "advertising fees" payable to ESPN.

delmoi: Apparently Twitter transactions have been brought up in the green before. People seemed to be more concerned that it was a worthless account than a TOS violation. It kinda looks like "Sarah" agrees.
posted by pwnguin at 11:05 PM on May 1, 2012


claims to be a professional lawyer

And I'm here to tell you, on behalf of all lawyers, that this part rings dead-true. This is exactly how we talk and write. I introduce myself that way to acquaintances and in court. Every single time I draft a demand letter, I invoke that power opening. "My name is ________, and I am a professional lawyer." BAM.
posted by cribcage at 11:12 PM on May 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


One of those emails or tweets had someone introducing themselves as "mr. john doe". I've never had anyone of any actual substance introduce themselves with a title...it read like a Nigerian scam.
posted by maxwelton at 11:33 PM on May 1, 2012


What was the actual twitter account he was trying to get back?
posted by delmoi at 11:59 PM on May 1, 2012


Well, you've got to watch out for those amateur hour lawyers.
posted by delmoi at 12:17 AM on May 2, 2012


But here's the thing – what if it was all Sarah.

Wanna put some money on that?
posted by fleacircus at 12:45 AM on May 2, 2012


Damn. She (they?) scammed Condescending Wonka. Hard to tell if she is a pro or everyone else that she deals with is an amateur.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:11 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


So, my original reaction is really due to the fact that I've been reading her stuff since it first appeared on ESPN's page 2. I know that a lot of people had never heard of her until now, but I assumed she was just younger version of Bill Simmons or Gregg Easterbrook (not as good a writer, but maybe on the way). I noticed a few oddities in her self-reported record sometimes, because I remember thinking stuff like "I just know she picked against [whatever team] last week", but when I would go back to the post, her pick was gone. I had just assumed that I imagined it was her who picked that team, since I read a lot of articles about sports. Maybe it was just someone else, I'd tell myself.

I really wish I could remember a specific example, but one of the articles linked above mentions her picking 3 prop bets on Tebow, and missing out on all of them. Those things have been deleted. So, maybe I wasn't actually imagining it.

In fact, I remember reading her "junk mail" column a couple weeks ago which had the question about her just possibly being a nom de plume for someone else. When I read that, at the time, I just thought "jeez, some people are so weird. Of course she's real. She writes for ESPN for god's sake."

I am evidently much more gullible than I thought.
posted by King Bee at 4:59 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


King Bee, I used to follow her during football season, because she would send out Tweets asking for the score of a game, with the promise that the closest prediction would win $250 or something. A lot of fantasy football bloggers would RT her stuff. In retrospect, it's pretty obvious that she never paid anyone, it was just a way to get followers. But the reason why I stopped following her was because she was incredibly mean to people on Twitter. Same reason why I stopped following Tom Scharpling.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:03 AM on May 2, 2012


Oh, and Peter King! Peter King is a dick on Twitter!!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:12 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I don't use twitter, so I never knew she was mean to people or anything. In her column, she would sometimes include tweets of people being mean to her, and I always thought that was weird.

MAYBE PETER KING IS SARAH PHILLIPS ZOMG
posted by King Bee at 5:14 AM on May 2, 2012


Hey, (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates your link there tripped my anti-virus, trying to download this:


http:// www. daysofyorr. com/ release .js

(spaces added by me)
posted by tilde at 6:17 AM on May 2, 2012


It's turtles (and sketchiness) all the way down, apparently. The site was fine for me. Essentially, the story there is that she pulled the same "Hey, do you want to join this new pseudo-ESPN site as a contributor? All you have to do is give me the passwords to your twitter account and OH HEY I HAZ IT NOW" routine on the guy who runs the Condescending Wonka twitter account, which has 800,000 followers. This only happened a few days ago, so the guy apparently got the site back sometime last night.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:21 AM on May 2, 2012


Okay, thanks!
posted by tilde at 6:56 AM on May 2, 2012


Peter King is a dick on Twitter!!

Maybe
posted by drezdn at 7:12 AM on May 2, 2012


Here's hoping Dadboner doesn't get drawn into this mess.
posted by drezdn at 7:17 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Condescending Wonka thing is really interesting, but the idea of buying (or scamming) successful parody accounts seems like a bad one. The tone of the tweets are really important and switching to a writer that doesn't get it right will just lose lots of followers.
posted by drezdn at 7:20 AM on May 2, 2012


On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:53 AM on May 2, 2012


I decided to go read her first ever column for Covers [avatars in comments and some ads NSFW] and now I'm completely baffled that they ever thought she was on the level. The writing style in that first column reeks of someone who isn't who they say they are.

After finding out all this stuff, I feel like such a joker for ever liking her column on ESPN.
posted by King Bee at 8:47 AM on May 2, 2012


King Bee, it makes me wonder about the current employment status of the person who hired her.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:48 AM on May 2, 2012


Would that be this Lynn Hoppes character? Is she even real?
posted by King Bee at 9:01 AM on May 2, 2012


It's a he. And yeah, he's real.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:28 AM on May 2, 2012


(I don't know if he's spectacular or not.)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:41 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're feeling bullshitted out after all this, I urge you to read the original Metafilter thread on Monster cables. (See my earlier digression on this whole extremely minor headphones prize, making this comment so digressive to this thread that I have no excuse. I just feel compelled, as if by a higher power.)

It's such a good thread. It's golden for this summary alone. But really why you need to read it is to see a lot of MeFi lawyers confidently predicting that the dude who challenged Monster Cables to a public, humiliating, epic legal battle would get his ass completely handed to him. And that is completely the correct prediction! If anyone should know the consequences of reckless public self-gratification, it's lawyers.

Except for one little law student who was like, I'm in law school so I think justice can still actually prevail. All the lawyers totally laughed at him like ha ha ha, I was in law school once too. Not only wasn't he cowed, he just kept coming back at them, ipsoing their factoing the best he could.

And as it turns out, he was right. Kurt Denke not only got away with publicly humiliating Monster, he's donated to the defense of other little companies they've bullied, because apparently once you make them cry you get fond of it.

It's a hard world, and the smart thing to do is to keep your head down while trying to avoid being eaten by anything bigger, but sometimes people don't do what's wise. They do what's right. Then they get eaten. Except when by exceptional grace, skill, and wit -- or the merest of lucky chances -- they don't.

It's always a glorious sight to see.
posted by melissa may at 10:10 AM on May 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


melissa may: you're " I'm in law school so I think justice can still actually prevail" link is the same as the "this summary" link.
posted by Green With You at 10:25 AM on May 2, 2012


Oh sorry about that; here is the proper link.
posted by melissa may at 10:29 AM on May 2, 2012


Since the original FPP is thin (only has the Deadspin article, which was, at the time, the only thing available), I'm collecting a few links here.

– Phillips' original picture sent to Covers.com was that of a woman named Ivy Smith
– Phillips' response to the Deadspin article
– Phillips' twitter account which has gone silent since her initial response
posted by King Bee at 10:32 AM on May 2, 2012


I guess I'm naive, but I had no idea people were just buying and selling twitter handles like that.

This is the world that black-hat SEO has wrought. Sarah Philips and her scam are a big part of that world, too. I hate to link to the site, but dive into the forums and you will certainly learn something sleazy you didn't know before.

The tone of the tweets are really important and switching to a writer that doesn't get it right will just lose lots of followers.

That's the thing. They don't care. It's all about maximizing short-term revenue. If you can get X followers to click on Y links to make $Z and that $Z is bigger than the cost of the Twitter account: PROFIT! They care fuck all about the content or credibility of the account.

Hard to tell if she is a pro or everyone else that she deals with is an amateur.

Oh, she's a pro. There are no complicated Internet cons. It's all try some bullshit quick and then move on. Just b/c we wouldn't fall for it doesn't make her not good. Nobody is that good at it. Of course we are too smart to fall for such bullshit.

I am evidently much more gullible than I thought.

But there's the real truth. We all are. (We're just not as greedy as those mofos.)

My favorite part of the article is when it's revealed that she's really good at gambling on WNBA games. That seems like a throw away joke in a 30 Rock episode or something.

It makes sense, If it doesn't get a lot of attention from other really good gablers, it might make sense that you'd be able to clean up from all the noobs.


I disagree. The WNBA has ZERO casual fans or casual bettors. Anyone betting in that space would be near expert level.

But ESPN definitely needs the next Bill Simmons (or similar internet commodity - there are tons of quality sites/podcasts out there) if they want to remain "The Worldwide Leader"

I literally have not visited ESPN.com since 1998. What is it even for?

it's funny that almost everyone I know has a Yahoo! account solely to play fantasy football

No, no, no. Fantasy baseball.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on May 2, 2012


Lynn Hoppes is (in)famous for his own reasons:

Papa John's founder John Schnatter feeds me pizza
posted by mrgrimm at 10:56 AM on May 2, 2012


I literally have not visited ESPN.com since 1998. What is it even for?

I visit multiple times a day. I am subscribed to the NFC North blog so I get constant updates on my phone about what's happening in the division I care most about. I watch their live gamecasts of hockey, basketball, and baseball games since I don't get the stations. I play fantasy sports there. They often have breaking NFL news before NFL.com does.

Lastly, Gregg Easterbrook's "Tuesday Morning Quarterback" may be the best football writing on the planet.
posted by King Bee at 10:57 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I won't tell the full story because if I did, your brain would literally explode"

Somehow I doubt that.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:58 AM on May 2, 2012


I watch their live gamecasts of hockey, basketball, and baseball games since I don't get the stations.

I did not know that. Thanks! There are a LOT of times when I want to watch a game but can't b/c it's on ESPN. Hell, wasn't the NCAA championship b-ball game on ESPN?

You're saying you can watch all the ESPN games online for free? That's pretty awesome. I know we're going there (e.g. Mad Men on AMC, etc.) but I didn't expect ESPN to give all their live programming away online for free. The network has been dominant and exclusionary for a while, so that is very welcome news.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:04 AM on May 2, 2012


Even more than that. ESPN3 sometimes simulcasts 10 (or more) events at once. Good place to watch soccer, tennis, cricket, etc.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:06 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Eek, no. The "gamecast" isn't a live streaming video or anything. It's like a super up to date play by play, but (for instance) in basketball, spots will show up on the court where guys are taking shots and stuff.

It's not watching an actual game, but its better than nothing.
posted by King Bee at 11:07 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I loooooove about this story is how Sarah Phillips and Navin Prasad seemed to be trafficking in complete bullshit.

The Sports Comedy Network?

That amuses me on so many levels. Is there such a market for laffs about sports that it's worth ripping off and outraging people who already, demonstrably have a gift for reaching large numbers of people in the interwebs? Pro tip: it's a lot better to rip off the naive, the voiceless, and the technologically unsophisticated, than people who have Twitter followings of hundreds of thousands. Because even if you STEAL their Twitter following, these people you're ripping off are proven, uh, communicators. So don't be surprised if your malfeasance comes to light. Try ripping off little old ladies, shut-ins, and such.

And the other thing ... the Sports Comedy Network. It sounds so mainstream and legitimate. A network? Like a TV channel. But it's just some idiotic couple of grifters' website and Facebook page?
posted by jayder at 11:08 AM on May 2, 2012


And while not trying to get too off-topic, if you're wondering about the employment status of Lynn Hoppes, he posted something to Playbook today. So he still has a job...for now.
posted by King Bee at 11:08 AM on May 2, 2012


Yeah, sorry, gamecasts are not live events. But ESPN3 does broadcast all ESPN live events, plus many extra.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:10 AM on May 2, 2012


Lynn Hoppes doesn't like pizza?
posted by drezdn at 11:15 AM on May 2, 2012


Good place to watch soccer, tennis, cricket, etc.

Oh man, what I would give for a 1980s ESPN channel again. Ping pong, cricket, sepak taraw ...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:55 AM on May 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


And Australian Rules Football!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 11:58 AM on May 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


A look into her wheelings and dealings with this Prasad character is now up on Deadspin. There's also a link there to some photos of someone named Sarah Phillips who looks like the Sarah Phillips from the ESPN pictures, but it's starting to get a bit creepy for my tastes. There are even people going to the address of Sports Comedy Network LLC and trying to get someone to come out. I'm thinking this is a bad idea.
posted by King Bee at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2012


Ha ha ha, I love that video of the dudes trying to get them to come out of the apartment. Human flesh search engine at its best. Seriously awesome. We need more human flesh search engine action in the U.S., in my opinion.
posted by jayder at 1:06 PM on May 2, 2012


Seriously though, I think most of us accept that things like murder exist, because they're so far outside our daily experience they become almost academic. But when someone is slightly rude to us or does something like this, we're all like, "HOW CAN PEOPLE ACT LIKE THAT???"

The secret here is that we don't think of ordinary criminals as people, so there's no need to ask why people would act like that.

/another cynical defense attorney
posted by Honorable John at 1:34 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


The secret here is that we don't think of ordinary criminals as people, so there's no need to ask why people would act like that.

For me, it's different. Most people I've defended -- virtually all, if not all -- did things that, once you know the whole story, make perfect sense, flowing out of some need or emotion that is pretty mundane. I absolutely do think of my clients as people, and I don't have to wonder "how can people act that way" because it is clear, once I know the story.

But this kind of thing -- stealing websites and twitter accounts from people you KNOW are going to raise hell and ruin your scheme -- I confess I do not understand.
posted by jayder at 2:22 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


BECUZ ITZ ALL ABOUT THE BINJAMINS BABY
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 2:59 PM on May 2, 2012


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