The sports blog Deadspin published a phenomenal report on the recently-fired ESPN columnist Sarah Phillips. You owe it to yourself to read the report if you care about A) journalism, B) business ethics or C) not getting scammed.
Turns out, at the very, least Sarah Phillips engaged in possible fraud by using her ESPN employment to take advantage of naive bloggers. At worst, "Sarah Phillips" doesn't even exist and is in fact an Indian con man named Nilesh Prasad.
But the under-appreciated angle of the story is how incredibly negligent ESPN was in its hiring practices. The Disney-owned sports monolith apparently hired an employee based on an unverifiable biography and never met with her face-to-face.
In return, one or more scam artists used the status of "ESPN employee" to con unsuspecting teenagers and horny dudes out of their money and websites. Internet trustworthiness is an oxymoron, but we rely on companies like ESPN to be maintain credibility and integrity in the Wild West of the Web.
So far, ESPN says it "will review this instance and see if anything needs to be changed with our process." They also need to review their journalistic standards.