Another Sarah Phillips Scam: "I'm A Writer For ESPN And I Have A Plan To Take Over The World"

On Tuesday, Sarah Phillips took to Twitter. She told us she was 22. She said she's happy that she's no longer involved in sports media.

Phillips claimed that she "learned much of that story"—referring to the saga of the 19-year-old who got suckered out of his Facebook page by Phillips and Nilesh Prasad—from our piece. She wrote in a tweet (since deleted) that she's going to "change passwords" to her … well, we're not quite sure. To her email accounts (accounts that Prasad, presumably, had access to)? She also claimed: "I have severed ties with many people today. I need a new circle. I need to get back to being a 22-year-old."

What could she have learned about the Ben story that she did not already know? Perhaps she had no idea that Prasad told Ben on the phone that he worked for ESPN. Perhaps she had no idea that Prasad—whom she very likely lives with—would misrepresent himself.

But, as we've learned in the last few hours, all she had to do was look at her own Gchat and Gmail archives, and she would have known everything. Or maybe she knew all along.

Take the story of Erik Miller and Brent Booher, who, like Ben, were approached by Sarah Phillips in early April. Both Miller and Booher ran popular Twitter accounts (@_Happy_Gilmore and @FauxJohnMadden, respectively.) She proposed the same Sports Comedy Network idea that she did with Ben.

In an email to Booher, she laid out her vision for her new site, the same one that she pitched to Ben. She wrote: "I want to use my position at ESPN and create a better version of Page 2."

Not bad. There could be a lot of money involved, not to mention the extra benefit of working with someone affiliated with ESPN.

"My goal would be to get you guys exposure with my ESPN tag and hopefully have you guys join ESPN in the future," she wrote in an email to Booher on April 11.

On April 17, in a Gchat conversation, Miller and Phillips got to know each other a little bit better.

Phillips told him she was originally from Cupertino and that her father worked for Apple (which does seem to be true). She told him that she played soccer when she was younger (true), and that she's a big basketball and football fan. The "me" below is Miller:

me: so whats yoru story?
your*
Sarah: Well, I'm a writer for ESPN.com.
me: can you kill skip bayless for me?
Sarah: And I have a plan to takeover the world.
Lol. If you ever meet Skip, you'll wind up loving him.
me: lol i will have to l that day
until then
purehatred
Sarah: He's a character, that's for sure. But his on-screen deal is an act.
me: yeah?
i kinda had an idea
Sarah: 100%. He's the antagonist that people love to hate.
me: gotcha. Ok well thats really good to know then
Sarah: So, back to my plan to rule the world ...
me: ok yes, continue
Sarah: We're creating FauxESPN.com, which is in its preliminary stages will be primarily photos — captioned images, memes, fake tweets, and fake iPhone conversations, etc.
It's basically a way for us to monetize the followings we've created on Twitter.
But still keep a comedic touch and not become link dumps.

(Here's the full transcript.)

It's probably more than fair to assume that Sarah Phillips has never met Skip Bayless. (As for Twitter followings, I direct you to posts at WagerMinds and the Nilsen Report, both of which suggest she was seeking outside help to goose her own Twitter numbers. The Nilsen story also has a screenshot of a chat in which Sarah says, "This isn't Sarah"—as if someone else were using her account.)

Like Ben from NBA Memes, Miller wondered who would be working for her website. Phillips mentioned a few names: Booher, the 19-year-old with NBA Memes, and an "an ESPN.com editor to keep things looking kosher on the site and written content." As we learned yesterday, there was no one from ESPN.com who was associated with this site.

She predicted big business for Miller. Especially thanks to her connection at ESPN.

Sarah: At a minimum, we're each making a few thousand dollars a month. By my ESPN.com senior director estimates, each of the five of us will be making over $100K.
My ultimate goal, being that I work for ESPN, is to sell the site to ESPN and becoming a blog on ESPN.com.
ESPN recently got rid of ESPN Page 2 (the site I worked for) and created ESPN Playbook (the site I currently work for). I think Page 2 fit a comedic audience that will now be sorrily missed on the site."

Phillips claimed that FauxESPN.com—which was eventually renamed the Sports Comedy Network—would have sponsorship deals, "like Subway on Grantland."

Sarah: We've already begun creating the website design with an ESPN designer. We're aiming for it to look like ESPN.com — almost identical, but enough difference to not get hit with a lawsuit.

And what exactly did Phillips want from Miller and Booher? Access to their Twitter accounts so she could post from them, Miller told me.

They never wound up giving her the keys, Miller said, but they very well could have in the future.

Want yet another story?

EA Sports Consultants, a handicapping service, ran into trouble when they hooked up with Phillips to work on her new web venture, SarahPHI.com, which no longer exists. Here's an email we got from "Mike," who works with EA Sports Consultants:

Until now, we were (i) too embarrassed to admit that we more than likely got scammed and (ii) weren't totally sure if it was a scam or not; but after reading your article, we're now convinced that we got caught up in all of this SJP hoopla like most other people, but unfortunately, we took a financial hit as a result.

We are a legitimate and documented sports handicapping service that provides selections to our clients for the NFL, College Football and College Basketball. Like most people in the industry, we became aware of SJP in the spring of 2011 as a result of "her" columns on Covers.com. We knew immediately that the popularity of a cute, sports betting chick was limitless and we wanted to associate our business in some way with that popularity. We began correspondence with "her" in July 2011 as she began to build sarahphi.com. We told "her" that we wanted to be associated with the site in some way and worked with "her" on an advertising partnership for the video page of her site. We were told that the work was already in progress to have a video series of her and her friends doing different things. The site was going to be part sports betting discussion and part pop culture. We believed that this was a no brainer to get involved with from the launch, as its content would have a far-reaching audience. We paid $1,500 for a 3.5 month banner ad that would sit on top of the video she would post each day. The time frame was going to be from mid-August 2011 till the end of November 2011. While the site never officially launched, there was a beta site during some of that timeframe, where our ad was posted on top of the videos that she would post from YouTube. We did get some minor amount of extra traffic as a result.

Nevertheless, the site never materialized and the beta version was shut down somewhere around late September or early October. We were told there was a lot of legal issues with what she was trying to do on the site, specifically with the video series with her friends. She did however continue to want to assist us and put us in contact with her "industry contact list". Using her as a conduit, we would send e-mails to her contact list regarding our service and our success in hopes that someone with some weight in the industry could assist us in growing and marketing our business. We were just trying to get noticed and grow out client base. The lone person to reach out to us from that "contact list" was, the now infamous, Nilesh Prasad. He said that he was in the business of reselling picks from handicappers. After some back and forth, he determined that our site wasn't flashy enough even though we were winning and to contact him again once our site was upgraded. Furthermore, she also retweeted some of our plays that we would post on Twitter, but she would unfollow us almost immediately after the RT. There were other broken promises regarding getting us in direct contact with certain people in industry (i.e. names, numbers, e-mail, etc.), but they were never realized as both she and her assistant, Sylvia, were very difficult to get a hold of. Eventually, we were told that Sylvia was fired.

Throughout this process, we, like most people, questioned what was really going on with SJP; but since Covers and ESPN worked with her, we thought it was most likely legit, at least we hoped!

In the end, about a month ago, we asked for 50% of our advertising money back. Without any hesitation or push back, "she" sent it back. That led us to believe she knew she was wrong for never getting the site launched or helping us as she claimed she was going to.

Did Sarah Phillips ever contact you with an exciting business proposition? Email me: koblin@deadspin.com.

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