Remember @evleaks? If you are a passionate follower of technology, you would know him as the guy who was really good in leaking out news of upcoming mobile phone devices. In August, Evan Blass – the man behind the account – announced his retirement as he was unable to support himself by leaking phones, especially given he suffers from multiple sclerosis.
Being the internet, there was a fundraising effort to raise some money for Blass. The Indiegogo campaign was created by TK Tech News, who is known for some of his leaks (though not with the same success rate as @evleaks). Blass then shared the campaign to his Twitter followers. Altogether, it raised US$9,275.
Now, the fundraiser has been labelled a fraud after allegations emerged that not all the money would be going to Blass. While any donations made by PayPal would directly go to Blass, any other donations made by credit card went to a woman called Patricia Pizer – allegedly to be TK Tech News’ wife.
“According to a letter I just received from IndieGoGo, @tktechnews routed the thousands of dollars in credit card donations to the @evleaks fund into his wife’s bank account, culminating on September 24th,” Blass writes in an Twitlonger post. “Despite that, he has been regularly pinging to see if I got “the rest of the money.” — which he knew all along, to be impossible.”
“I’m heartbroken to say, helped line the pockets of someone whom I now know to be a scammer,” he adds.
TK Tech News has denied the allegations of fraud, and has threatened to sue Blass – and anyone else repeating the claim – for defamation.
“My lawyer is going to file Tuesday preliminary papers to formally sue Evan Blass for slander and anyone that does the same,” TK Tech News wrote in an Instagram post, before deleting his account.
“I have been cleared to talk about this on here but as my attorney stated today our website and media outlets shouldn’t be engaging in this as it just draws attention to Evan and that’s what he wants.”
TK Tech News also posted a YouTube video that he said rebuts some of the claims made by Blass. However, Blass himself said that it is “doctored” and confirms that he does not even live at the address shown in the video. The video has since been taken down.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) October 12, 2014
“His name is fake. His history is fake. His persona is fake.”
The person behind TK Tech News has claimed that he is former NHL hockey player Myles O’Conner – who now lives in Alberta, Canada. He claims to have changed his name to “TK” in 2007, and claims to be a “regular contributor” on Fox Sports Radio (that is based on mysterious changes that appeared on the Myles O’Connor Wikipedia page in late August).
However, all of these are untrue.
Blass has said on Twitter that the real Myles O’Connor has denied that he is involved with TK Tech News.
Received a response from the *real* Myles O'Connor earlier, confirming that Thomas "TK" Connors of @tktechnews is an impostor and a fraud.
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) October 13, 2014
After some digging by Phandroid’s Derek Ross, the man behind TK Tech News is Thomas Kelley Conners – a man from Florida.
His connection with Patricia Prizer (the woman who has received some of the funds from the Indiegogo campaign) appears to be main source of evidence for Ross to conclude Conners is the man behind TK Tech News. His name appears alongside Prizer’s name on a crowdfunding page for his company “Way Too Far Games” – the name will sound familiar, as it is also the username for TK Tech News’ YouTube channel. His Facebook page has photos of her, and the WHOIS page notes Prizer was the owner of the TK Tech News website (he has since changed this after being contacted by Ross).
It should be noted that Way Too Far Games is a legitimate company. According to Ross:
Way Too Far Games seems to be a real company though, having various titles available on Amazon’s Appstore available for download and even posting for job listings back in July of 2012, claiming to be a mobile development company focusing on Android and ran by former hockey players.
TK Tech News has also said that he plans to sue Ross for slander in relation to the article. He has not confirmed that if he is Thomas Kelley Conners, but the evidence pointed out by Ross in his article does make it hard to deny.
After posting what was seen as a mean-spirited tweet directed at Blass, Conners has since deleted his Instagram profile and his Twitter handle @tktechnews no longer works. His Google+ page now claims to be for “Total Tech Media” – despite the fact that the URL on the page mentions his site. His YouTube channel still remains the same.
According to Ausdroid’s Daniel Tyson, he now tweets under the handle @TheRealTKTech – however, the account is set to private. Based on a public Twitter search, it appears Conners posted another YouTube video with a message, “Evan Blass is a fraud. Under federal investigation.” That video has now been marked private.
In a Google+ post – which has been taken down, but has been screencapped by another person – he says that he is in talks with another journalist to present his side of the story. The unnamed journalist is said to be from a “publication that Evan has royally bashed”. He also reiterates that he plans to sue both Blass and Ross for slander.
“Cant wait to see this clown say I was wrong. But he wont (sic). This is what the court and gavel are for,” he writes.
“I hope it was worth your job Derek.”