Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Mon June 15 2020 13:24:33

Six Former eBay Employees Charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking..

By: DOJ and eBay press releases

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Six Former eBay Employees Charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking Campaign Targeting Natick Couple

BY: Department of Justice Press Release

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 15, 2020

Six Former eBay Employees Charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking Campaign Targeting Natick Couple

BOSTON – Six former employees of eBay, Inc. have been charged with leading a cyberstalking campaign targeting the editor and publisher of a newsletter that eBay executives viewed as critical of the company. The alleged harassment included sending the couple anonymous, threatening messages, disturbing deliveries – including a box of live cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody pig mask – and conducting covert surveillance of the victims. 

James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, Calif., eBay’s former Senior Director of Safety & Security, was arrested today and charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.

David Harville, 48, of New York City, eBay’s former Director of Global Resiliency, was arrested this morning in New York City on the same charges and will make an initial appearance via videoconference in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

In addition the following defendants were charged in an Information unsealed today: Stephanie Popp, 32, of San Jose, eBay’s former Senior Manager of Global Intelligence; Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, Calif., the former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center (GIC); Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, a former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the GIC; and Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, a former Senior Manager of Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team. They are each charged with  conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and will make appearances in federal court in Boston at a later date. 

According to the charging documents, the victims of the cyberstalking campaign were a Natick couple who are the editor and publisher of an online newsletter that covers ecommerce companies, including eBay, a multinational ecommerce business that offers platforms for consumer-to-consumer and business-to-consumer transactions. Members of the executive leadership team at eBay followed the newsletter’s posts, often taking issue with its content and the anonymous comments underneath the editor’s stories. 

It is alleged that in August 2019, after the newsletter published an article about litigation involving eBay, two members of eBay’s executive leadership team sent or forwarded text messages suggesting that it was time to “take down” the newsletter’s editor.

In response, Baugh, Harville, Popp, Gilbert, Zea, Stockwell, and others allegedly executed a three-part harassment campaign. Among other things, several of the defendants ordered anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home, including a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, a book on surviving the loss of a spouse, and pornography – the last of these addressed to the newsletter’s publisher but sent to his neighbors’ homes.

As part of the second phase of the campaign, some of the defendants allegedly sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content and threatening to visit the victims in Natick. The documents allege that Baugh, Gilbert, Popp and another eBay security employee planned these messages to become increasingly disturbing, culminating with “doxing” the victims (i.e., publishing their home address). It is alleged that the very same group intended then to have Gilbert, a former Santa Clara police captain, approach the victims with an offer to help stop the harassment that the defendants were secretly causing, in an effort to promote good will towards eBay, generate more favorable coverage in the newsletter, and identify the individuals behind the anonymous comments.

The third phase of the campaign allegedly involved covertly surveilling the victims in their home and community. According to the complaint, Harville and Zea registered for a software development conference to explain their trip to Boston on Aug. 15, 2019. Baugh, Harville, and Zea (and later Popp) allegedly drove to the victims’ home in Natick several times, with Harville and Baugh intending at one point to break into the victims’ garage and install a GPS tracking device on their car. As protection in the event they were stopped by local police, Baugh and Harville allegedly carried false documents purporting to show that they were investigating the victims as “Persons of Interest” who had threatened eBay executives. The victims spotted the surveillance, however, and notified the Natick police, who began to investigate. The police learned that Zea had rented one of the cars used by the defendants and reached out to eBay for assistance.

Aware that the police were investigating, the defendants allegedly sought to interfere with the investigation by lying to the police about eBay’s involvement while pretending to offer the company’s assistance with the harassment, as well as by lying to eBay’s lawyers about their involvement. At one point, for example, Baugh, Gilbert, Popp, and Stockwell allegedly plotted to fabricate another eBay “Person of Interest” document that could be offered to the police as a lead on some of the harassing deliveries. As the police and eBay’s lawyers continued to investigate, the defendants allegedly deleted digital evidence that showed their involvement, further obstructing what had by then become a federal investigation.

The charges of conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses each carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Natick Chief of Police James G. Hicks made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth B. Kosto and David J. D’Addio of Lelling’s Securities, Financial and Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case. 

The details contained in charging documents are allegations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Link to Press Release on Department of Justice website.

eBay Inc. Issues Statement Regarding Indictments of Previously Terminated Employees

BY: eBay Press Release

eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY) today commented on indictments separately announced by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts against several former eBay employees. Neither the Company nor any current eBay employee was indicted. In order to preserve the integrity of the government’s investigation, eBay did not previously communicate about this matter. In light of today’s public announcement by the government, eBay is now addressing this matter publicly. 

eBay was notified by law enforcement in August 2019 of suspicious actions by its security personnel toward a blogger, who writes about the Company, and her husband. eBay immediately launched a comprehensive investigation, which was conducted with the assistance of outside legal counsel, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. As a result of the investigation, eBay terminated all involved employees, including the Company’s former Chief Communications Officer, in September 2019.

The independent special committee formed by eBay’s Board of Directors to oversee the Company’s investigation into this matter said, “eBay took these allegations very seriously from the outset. Upon learning of them, eBay moved quickly to investigate thoroughly and take appropriate action. The Company cooperated fully and extensively with law enforcement authorities throughout the process. eBay does not tolerate this kind of behavior. eBay apologizes to the affected individuals and is sorry that they were subjected to this. eBay holds its employees to high standards of conduct and ethics and will continue to take appropriate action to ensure these standards are followed.”

The Company noted that the internal investigation also examined what role, if any, the Company’s CEO at the time of the incident, Devin Wenig, may have had in this matter. The internal investigation found that, while Mr. Wenig’s communications were inappropriate, there was no evidence that he knew in advance about or authorized the actions that were later directed toward the blogger and her husband. However, as the Company previously announced, there were a number of considerations leading to his departure from the Company.

Link to statement on the eBayInc.com website.

Comments (279) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Six Former eBay Employees Charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking..   Six Former eBay Employees Charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking..

by: Anonymous Colombian This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 19:56:20 2020

I have used Ebay only a little but they appear to allow such fraud and the platform is so bad that you can't make money anymore as a casual seller. You list an item, someone claims they didn't receive the item listed that was clearly sent to them in perfect working order, and eBay does nothing to stop the obvious fraud. I hope their bad behavior means a huge payout for you. This platform deserves to fail with leadership and employees that attack those who expose the failures. The big story here is not the harassment but the idea that eBay will go to any length to suppress the bad press that exposes their fraudulent and bad business model. What is the dirty secret worth this kind of behavior?

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by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 21:54:36 2020

Here is a link to the actual Criminal Complaint.  I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams that Ebay would concoct something like this.  
I wonder what effect, if any, that it will have on its members.

https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6944865/DOC
S.pdf

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by: Flying Childers This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 22:00:11 2020

Video of US Attorney describing the bust:

https://youtu.be/NacqQW-SC7I

Perminate Link for Six Former eBay Employees Charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking..   Six Former eBay Employees Charged with Aggressive Cyberstalking..

by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 23:03:37 2020

@Tool

Ebays stock price is not stumbling yet because overall the market has suddenly moving upwards again but not as quickly as similar companies stock prices have been rising.  Also quite a few people still have not heard about this nor do they realize that this could still have a major impact Ebays earnings this year.   When the court cases get rolling there are going to be a lot issues disclosed that Ebay is hoping will never be made public.  I believe these discoveries and the disclosure of such will eventually impact Ebays stock price negatively.  I could be very wrong with my thoughts but only time will tell.  

Personally if i owned Ebay stock at this point in time, I would be selling it in hopes to of covering some of the money lost on this stock over the years.

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by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 23:09:14 2020

I also wonder what Mrs. Wenig thinks of the names her husband is being called now if she that being called a con man and thief was bad?  I guess she does not know her husband anywhere near as well as she thought she did since in my opinion both of those names were spot on, although it appears neither Wenig nor his wife ever considered them to have any accuracy.  

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by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Wed Jun 17 23:51:38 2020

"We don't get everything right all the time - and when we get something wrong it's the feedback of our customers that helps us find it and fix it."-- Jordan Sweetnam

I agree that their Sellers ( remember they do not consider Sellers as customers, but Partners...lol) do wind up finding most of Ebays errors and glitches because most of them seem to almost always be taking unearned fees from our accounts  by charging us for something that they suddenly changed to default to instead of the Sellers opting in to that feature.   Then most of the time when the seller calls in to try and get a credit for these "glitches", it is suddenly our fault for not catching the mistake when it happened and Ebay does not want to refund the money.  Anything to try and squeeze a few more pennies out of their Partners while our sales continue to plummet due to no marketing.  This seemed to be Wenigs expertise, how to pick your partners pocket!!!

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by: thriftyattireandstuff This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 00:12:29 2020

This is a good story about what happens when you just stop fighting the good fight and resort to nasty stuff, Noone is forcing you to work for eBay.. Noone is also forcing you to sell on eBay.. I once walked out of a company because i said, look, for my mental health i need to leave, sorry.. Apparently they locked the building down in fear lol.. but no really.. The place was a mess and I wanted to quit and didn't wanna just leave. No cockroaches were sent.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Jun 18 00:31:39 2020

@Silver Ice King

This will have very little to no effect on the stock price!

eBay earns over $2 billion a year.

Let's say eBay pays the attorney fee's for the "criminals"

6 defendants at $2 million each + $250,000 fine each + $13.5 million

Let's say the Steiner's get a huge reward of $10 million

$23.5 million is peanuts when you make $2 billion a year!

Heck, we can double all of those amounts and it's still peanuts.

My guess is the Steiner's settle for less then $10 million. . . . .

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 00:33:58 2020

I am sorry this happened to anyone. Just like I am sorry that most Amercian sellers sales are throttled by Ebay as well by black outs.  What company hides a good percentage of their merchandise? Ebay is the only one I have ever heard of doing this. The US Attorney needs to take a look at Ebay's deliberate acts of hiding sellers merchandise while charging them for 24/7 shop space.  

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by: Tiffee Jasso This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 00:34:44 2020

And I am sorry I misspelled American too.  

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by: Go tell the Spartans This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 01:01:07 2020

Ina, I am sorry that you and your husband had to go through this kind of thing with these criminals, and frankly I don't believe that the people identified were the only ones involved. I would be honored to join you in any legal action you bring against eBay. It's time for this nonsense to stop. Let's make it painful for eBay!

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by: turtledove This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 01:08:24 2020

The Auction Professor on youtube and facebook thinks he was targeted by eBay as well, around September or October 2019.  

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by: turtledove This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 01:19:35 2020

Search youtube for The Auction Professor and see his video he published on June 15th.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Jun 18 02:08:08 2020

@toolguy

I'm here.  I posted much earlier in the thread.  Was there something I missed saying that you thought I should say?  I have no idea why you would think this subject would chase me off for any reason.  I get it that posters here often confuse my ability to explain some policy of Ebay's as supporting it.  I get that.  But that doesn't make it accurate.  

As I stated earlier in the thread, what this group of people from Ebay did to Ina and David there is no excuse for.  It is totally unacceptable behavior that there is no way to explain it.  The ways it was wrong are countless.  It is my hope that Ina and David get some closure with the court cases and some people if convicted have some prison time ahead of them.

Was there anything specific you wanted me to address?

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by: billly This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 06:06:21 2020

I'm looking forward to watching the whole story play out on "60 Minutes" and see the reaction on Leslie Stahl's face when whichever dimwit from Ebay claims they had no idea that there was an elaborate, criminal scheme being executed by a gang of pros working on their behalf. Popcorn anyone?

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by: Jono77 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 07:00:20 2020

EBAY - Bring me the head of Ina Steiner! The Movie! Coming soon!  

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by: Simi MIke This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 07:49:30 2020

Well if there is a bright side to this for David and Ina it is that their newsletter has gotten national coverage and hopefully the number of subscribers is skyrocketing.
As commented earlier hopefully you'll end up with a nice settlement for all you've been through, but please don't retire from putting out your newsletter.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Jun 18 09:09:34 2020

Let's just ask point blank. . .

David & Ina, when the criminal & civil cases are over are you going to retire?

(asking for a friend - lol)

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Jun 18 09:11:15 2020

@Marie

"Was there anything specific you wanted me to address? "

Not on this topic

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 09:41:04 2020

Ina - can you please NOT remove this thread - make it a "sticky" so that you can update us and we can continue to monitor this ?

thank you

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