So far, we know that former ESPN columnist Sarah Phillips and her partner, Nilesh Prasad, hijacked a 19-year-old's Facebook page, misrepresented their connections to ESPN, and engaged in some sort of minor-league hustle at a Corvallis, Ore., T-Mobile store. To that list, let's add another, more serious allegation: Phillips exploited her notoriety on a gambling website to funnel at least one bettor to a bookie, who allegedly took the bettor's money and never paid out winnings or returned the original stake. That bookie appears to have been Prasad.
Back in May 2011, a person we'll call Joe wanted to find a reliable place where he could make some plays. The U.S. Department of Justice's offensive against several major online poker companies—dubbed Black Friday—had him worried about online betting in general. Joe lives in Oregon, and he decided to reach out to one of Covers.com's newest featured writers, Sarah Phillips, who had mentioned her own Oregon connections in previous columns. Joe asked if she had any advice on where he safely could place some bets.
"I use a local," Phillips wrote back to Joe on May 25, according to a screengrab of the private message sent through Covers. (We know it's her screen name; it's the same one she used in Covers messages with Matt, the man who gave Sarah Phillips money for a web site that was soon shut down.) "I don't trust the online people right now. If you're in the Portland area, I'll give you his contact information."
Joe told her to pass it along.
"541.xxx.0300," she wrote back. "He's really good, no fees, pays on time. Send him a text message that only says 'ORANGE' (in caps) and he'll answer your questions. That's the password."
(Incidentally, the number I have for Sarah Phillips begins with the same six numbers, but ends in 0003.)
Two months later, Joe wanted to try out another bookie. He asked Phillips, and she again provided him with a contact.
"541.xxx.0077," she wrote back. "DUCKS as the first message. Clarify rules before you bet with them! Good luck buddy."
We've seen that phone number before. It's the same number that "Ben"—the 19-year-old college student who says Phillips and Prasad euchred him out of his NBA Memes Facebook page—used to text with and talk to Nilesh Prasad. Was Prasad a bookie, too? And was Phillips steering business to him?
And what about the first phone number? Was that just a random bookie, or was that Prasad again?
This is where things get a bit tricky. Joe told me that, in an effort to deposit money with Bookie #2, he tried to text him some account information, only to inadvertently text Bookie #1 instead. He never heard back from Bookie #1, but, Joe says, he did get a message from Bookie #2 saying his account had been credited. His conclusion: Bookie #1 and Bookie #2 were connected in some way.
He told Phillips as much. According to a screengrab of a message from August, he said, in part: "I don't know whats going on here (2 phone numbers by same bookie?)... I am up a lil' right now so I'm not gonna punch myself yet but I suggest if you're up big on the 0330 as well, you start cashing out..." (Joe said that the "0330" was a typo; he meant "0300"—i.e., the first number Phillips gave him.)
Between the two bookies, Joe told me, he had deposited hundreds of dollars. He made a good amount of money with the second bookie—on paper—but he was told sometime later that the account had been "compromised." He said he never got any money back, neither his initial deposits nor what Joe calculated to be more than $1,000 in winnings.
Did anything like this happen to you? Email me: email@example.com.
- Is An ESPN Columnist Scamming People On The Internet?
- Sarah Phillips Admits She "Concealed" Her Identity, Made "Poor Choices With Who To Trust"
- Sources: Sarah Phillips And Nilesh Prasad Picked Games Together, Scammed People Together, Got Fired From T-Mobile Together
- Another Sarah Phillips Scam: "I'm A Writer For ESPN And I Plan To Take Over The World"
- Meet Nilesh Prasad, Sarah Phillips's Scamming Partner And Supposed "Puppetmaster"