For more than four years, a self-proclaimed recruiting service called D-1 Bound profited off the desperation of high school football recruits and their parents, using Twitter to solicit thousands of dollars in payments for recruiting help they say they never received.
And when Twitter banned D-1 Bound’s account last month for violating its financial scam policy, the group did not go away.
It just made a new account three days later and kept going.
“Main Account (D1boundfactory) Suspended,” D-1 Bound wrote in the bio for its new account, @thefactorytemp. “# 1 In Recruiting! WE FIND OPPORTUNITY”
After operating for nearly a month, that new account was also permanently suspended by Twitter on Saturday for violating multiple rules, including its ban evasion policyaccording to a company spokesperson.
Yet the ease with which D-1 Bound continued operating – returning to the social-media platform, and quickly amassing a following of nearly 200 college football coaches – left some parents livid.
“The sheer audacity,” said Mimi de Ville, whose son sent $ 1,700 to D-1 Bound in 2020. “He is laughing at us like, ‘Catch me if you can. Nobody is going to come after me. Ha ha ha. ‘ “
De Ville said she reported D-1 Bound to her local police department in Elk Grove, California, after her son lost money to the group in 2020, then urged officers to revisit the case last month following USA TODAY Sports’ investigation into the group, which parents described as a scam.
Elk Grove Police Department spokesperson Jason Jimenez confirmed Monday that the department is now actively investigating D-1 Bound, describing the probe in an email as “a complex ongoing investigation due to the nature of the crime.”
It is unclear if any other law enforcement entities are looking into D-1 Bound.
“I’m extremely frustrated that police departments nationwide are not jumping on this and taking action,” said de Ville, who urged affected families to contact their local police.
In its initial investigation, USA TODAY Sports found that 18 families from 11 US states and Canada said they lost a combined total of nearly $ 33,000 to D-1 Bound, while also identifying former Georgia State football player Krysten Hammon as being associated with the group.
Hammon is listed on a Texas business record as the owner of “Slept On Recruiting,” a name under which the entity previously operated, and one parent said they were told last fall to send money via Zelle specifically to Hammon, identified as the group’s secretary . Hammon has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
USA TODAY Sports has since been contacted by four other parents who say they lost $ 22,000 in total to D-1 Bound.
“I hope that I’m wrong, because we’ve invested money,” said one Texas parent, who requested anonymity out of concern that their comments would impact their son’s ongoing recruitment. “But the results are really what’s confirming that this – it was just (expletive). It was all just (expletive).”
The Texas parent is one of several who were communicating with a D-1 Bound representative, who identified himself only as “Coach Taylor,” when the group’s primary Twitter account was suspended Feb. 8.
According to screenshots reviewed by USA TODAY Sports, “Coach Taylor” told parents that that someone had “hired” a reporter to “take us down” and alluded to taking unspecified legal action to defend itself against allegations in the article.
“We’ve done nothing wrong !!!” he told one parent in a direct message.
Messages sent to a phone number associated with “Coach Taylor” and email addresses associated with D-1 Bound have not been returned.
“Coach Taylor” also told them that D-1 Bound was moving its operation to a temporary account, @thefactorytemp, and assured them that a wave of college coaches would begin following it in the coming days.
Over the next three weeks, the account proceeded to send more than 3,000 messages to college football coaches asking them to “follow back,” while sometimes promising to send a prospect list in return. At least 184 obliged – including 62 position coaches or coordinators in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and even two FBS head coaches.
The Texas parent said the sudden influx of legitimate followers gave them pause. Even though they had sent $ 7,500 to D-1 Bound and not received any recruiting help, they saw the college coaches following the new account and briefly wondered if maybe the group was legitimate after all.
“I’m upset that coaches do follow, because for me, that’s a green light,” the Texas parent said. “I think when you represent yourself as a coach … and you’re literally a public figure dealing with young athletes, I think your judgment on who you follow should be different. I really do.”
It is immediately unclear how D-1 Bound evaded Twitter’s original ban, just three days after it was imposed. The company told USA TODAY Sports in an email that its enforcement team is still investigating the matter, while adding that Twitter uses a mix of automated and non-automated systems to reduce instances of ban evasion.
“Circumventing a Twitter enforcement action (such as a permanent suspension) … will result in permanent suspension at first detection,” Twitter’s policy states.
It appears D-1 Bound’s next move might be to attempt to rebrand entirely. As of noon Monday, the group’s website, d1boundrecruiting.com, redirected to a URL registered earlier that morning, nlorecruiting.com. The website there touted a group called “Next Level Opportunity,” offering recruiting packages priced from $ 4,000 to $ 14,000 per year.
“What separates NLO from others is our personal relationship with next level coaches across the country,” the website claimed. “We find opportunity.”
Hours later, the site had been taken down.
Did you interact with D-1 Bound or another recruiting service? Contact reporter Tom Schad at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.