ESPN has fired a writer who went from being a poster on the message boards at gambling site Covers.com to being a star columnist at ESPN.com without anybody checking her real identity. Sarah Phillips was sacked soon after Deadspin ran a lengthy expose questioning her identity and accusing her of involvement in a fraud and extortion scheme involving social media. Phillips, who said she was a 22-year-old West Coast university student and a hardcore gambler, never met anybody at ESPN in person and used photographs of several different people to accompany her writings at Covers.
Phillips and accomplices approached people with popular Facebook and Twitter pages, offered to make them part of a lucrative new venture, and then shut them out of their own sites, according to Deadspin. After her firing by ESPN—which says it is reviewing its hiring practices—she issued a series of tweets saying she had made "poor choices" but not admitting wrongdoing, PC Magazine reports. " I was able to evaluate everything and move away from sports media," she wrote. "You live and learn. I'm just a fan now ." (Read more ESPN stories.)