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

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by: Stargateman This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 10:06:04 2020

Sending Love and Light to you guys Thanks for all you do for us Ebay sellers. If
we all stand our ground on not letting them force us into managed payments we
can change things.

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by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 10:17:14 2020

Ina is one of the nicest and most professional person I have ever met on-line. My heart breaks for her and David. I only hope they get enormous retribution when all the legalities are played out. Thank you guys for being a bright light in the e-comm world

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rural artist

Thu Jun 18 10:18:27 2020

This is a travesty! I read what kinds of things made these 6 people upset and to tell you The truth these are not a shock to our minds like CEO’s making 152 times more ect. Really! What is Shocking is these folks Have entitled attitudes and we see this in our everyday lives the oppression of truth from the WH, to Black Lives Awareness to Corporations. This is the trail to Autocracy. Not only are these salaries/people are not worth the price but now they only want to hear you say they are! They really don’t care about being a good citizen or bigger than that an American.  

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 10:45:59 2020

The eBay Golden Rule: Do unto others. Period.

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by: Soconik This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 10:50:17 2020

Ina & David,
I am beyond words, the thought of you being terrorized by people with such wealth and power sends chills down my spine. Stay strong, I hope this nightmare ends soon for you both. Thank you for providing this platform, I have always been a faithful reader and have learned so much over the years.

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

Thu Jun 18 10:54:11 2020

Apparently the people who were being stalked and terrorized were the Steiners.
This is a sad day in America when people are being punished for exercising their First Amendment rights to Free Speech.
It's about time that the sellers on these platforms start reporting violations to the US Attorneys including all the RICO and civil rights violations as well.
This story is getting a lot of publicity all over the world on many different blog sites.

https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2020/06/18/sick-twi
sted-and-evil-six-ebay-executives-charged-with-disturbing-cyberstalking/

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by: kvl1 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 11:13:16 2020

Ina and David, I know many have already expressed this, but I want to add my sorrow and outrage that this has happened to you.  I have been a seller on eBay for 20 years, and I am appalled that this company used funds derived from sellers to finance this heinous criminal activity.

And on that subject, since when is a CEO's order to ''take her down'' not considered criminal activity?  As stated in the Wired.com article, ''eBay confirmed that he [Wenig] is “Executive 1,” who allegedly gave the initial order to “take her down.” So, how can they possibly release this preposterous statement:  ''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.'' INAPPROPRIATE?  No,it was not ''inappropriate,'' it was criminal from the top down.

In addition, eBay is trying to distance themselves by saying the involved employees are ''former'' employees, when they were definitely employees at the time they did all of this.  I see they are still trying to hide behind their usual corporatespeak. This is going to be the final push for me to move my business to another venue.

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by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 11:38:44 2020

This is very unfortunate and I am sorry that Ina and David have been subjected to such abuse. Given the crazy people in the world and the horrific acts of violence we hear about almost daily, it must have been a very unsettling experience.

I appreciate the work they do even in the face of not knowing who or where those threats were coming from. I can only imagine the shock to discover they were coming from eBay!

And now eBay is attempting to distance themselves from some "rogue" employees. Something like this is not "rogue". Corporations the size of eBay are filled with useless yes men suck ups that will do anything to get the bosses' attention. Like children in a preschool.

I think the investigation thus far has only scratched the surface. Once the individuals arrested begin to cut deals and roll over, we will hear of more people involved at higher levels.

This is proof positive that articles written by Ina about eBay, and the comments therein are all true. Complete validation of the contempt, lies, theft, and abuse that eBay executives have exacted against their sellers, buyers and investors for well over a decade. A culture that has been built around a criminal "mob like" organization that deserves to be investigated prosecuted as such.

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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 12:01:54 2020

Ina and David - I just heard about this investigation today. Since I no longer sell on eBay. One of my friends called me to let me know. First I want to extend my deepest sympathies to both of you. It's hard to imagine what ebay has put the 2 of you thru for months now. I'm quite sure there is great relief at your home but I'm not sure how quickly you both can actually recover from this drama. I hope you are not now suffering from PTSD. And I hope your are currently seeking treatment. Psychological warfare - let's call a spade a spade is no joking matter.

I am now in awe of you capabilities to simply even carry on during this long drawn out process. I'm not quite sure I would have survived the torturous treatment you have received at the hands of ebay. What some of us have recvd at the hands of ebay pales in nature with the exposure of this event.

That you are both still here is a testament to the triumph in the war between good and evil. Ebay knew what was going on - these horrible individuals did not operate with impunity. The axe has fallen and surely more will follow.

Again you have my deepest sympathies and as a victim myself of corporate corruption I am sure you have a really good attorney.

Blessing to you both and for the folks that are continuing to still sell on ebay - be careful - be very careful. Me I knew something was afoot when Wenig departed so quickly and left ebay after 21 years - enough is enough. There is life after ebay trust me. Evil doesn't always win.

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

Thu Jun 18 14:32:32 2020

I know we are all, well at least those of us not employed by Ebay, thrilled that Ina and David got through this ordeal and this site is still operational.  We also all continue to hope that they break the bank in the form of restitution from all of the parties involved as well as Ebay itself.  But no matter how much money they eventually do get from these people ( I use that word very very loosely as in my opinion they are the worst case scenario of that word) no amount is worth what they have had to deal with from Wenig and his staff.  

I think of myself as a person who can take pretty much anything that is dealt my way, but I am not sure that I could have come close to dealing with this situation as well personally or professionally as Ina and David have.  I truly hope that once all of the dust settles on this issue that Ebay is forced to take out a full page advertisement in every major newspaper apologizing for what they allowed their employees and BOD (yes they are involved and knew about this or the Chairman of the Board and the other Director that are suddenly leaving at the end of this month would not be giving up their cushy positions at this point in time, they would be sticking around to help Ebay overcome what has happened and help the new CEO put Ebay back on the right track, if that is even possible.  But instead they are running for cover in hopes that no longer being on the Board of Directors will shield them from also being prosecuted.  

Although it won't change what the Steiners have had to go through,  I hope that every single person involved ends up penniless after this is all said and done.  That includes no money, no home, nothing at all so they have to start all over and try to support them and their families as that is in reality what Wenig wanted done to them.  Wenigs wife was concerned that her husband was being called a con man and a thief by various posters on this site, well I wonder how she feels now that the truth is out and those names were in reality compliments compared to what he really is.  Both of them should not be able to keep one penny of that golden parachute and in fact based on his performance as the CEO of Ebay, he should have been paying the company for even being allowed on their campus.

As I said earlier, no amount of money will make up for what Ebay and its employees put these 2 through, so every individual that was in any way associated with this plan or was aware of this plan should spend at least 1 year in a Federal penitentiary as far away from their loved ones as possible.  The reason I say at least 1 year is any amount of time under that time frame could be spent in a county jail and even though Federal prison is a cake walk compared to most state prisons, there is very little, if any, time off for good behavior and many of them are in areas of the country that most of these individuals would never visit let alone have to live in it.  I would also hope that each of them is assigned the worst possible duty while in that prison so that they remember each and every day they had to spend in there, just as the Steiners are going to have to deal with the memories of what was done to them.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: CanBrit

Thu Jun 18 14:42:29 2020

@Silver Ice King

Well said. I'm sure all of us share your thoughts.

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by: Carol This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 15:21:29 2020

Every day we see uncivil, thug-like, clearly illegal behavior at the highest levels of government reported in the legitimate media.  This situation shows what can happen when people with huge resources who believe they are above the law go after someone who isn't backed by virtually limitless resources.  

It is wonderful news that the justice system still works well enough to at least investigate this case, even though the end result will probably not be equal to the crimes committed.

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by: thievesBay This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 15:48:09 2020

@toolguy Just stop with your nonsense. Now you're also an expert on how much money the Steiners would accept? You don't know what you're talking about basically about anything and you keep proving it over and over again. For chrissakes, you don't even know that cancel culture (and everything else going on in 2020) is extremism from the political Left? You are ridiculous.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Jun 18 16:31:42 2020

@thievesBay

Settle down, everything's going to be OK.

I'm not an expert on anything and I have no plans on being one.

I have my opinion just like you have yours.

"you don't even know that cancel culture (and everything else going on in 2020) is extremism from the political Left?"

I don't come to this forum to be political, I do that on Facebook. . . . .

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Thu Jun 18 16:42:10 2020

@SilverIceKing

"Federal prison is a cake walk compared to most state prisons, there is very little, if any, time off for good behavior"

That's not correct, it's an old myth!

If you get 1 year or less you will spend 100% of your time, anything over 1 year is eligible for a 15% reduction in sentence.

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by: wellspring This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 18:19:44 2020

Your strength, knowledge and expertise helped you grow your business and this community, helped you sustain through the awful months of harassment and intimidation at the hands of several top ebay execs and employees and your strength will see you through this.
Thank you for all you do for the reselling community. You are much needed and extremely appreciated. To me, you have always stated the news and the facts over opinion and have let the subscribers have a safe place to give their honest opinions without fear of retribution.  You provide a great service.
My heart goes out to you both for what you’ve been through.  

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by: MichaelP This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 19:47:35 2020

I just finished reading the court document. The lengths that the eBay employees were willing to go to to carry out and cover up this plot is truly remarkable and disturbing. It was very high risk/low reward and very unethical.

That Ina and David were able to keep up with producing this newsletter while quietly dealing with all of this speaks to their strength and resiliency. Thanks for keeping us informed and for giving us all a platform to voice our complaints/concerns and also our compliments.

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by: hopeforthebest This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jun 18 21:18:39 2020

Made even more national news:

https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/6/18/21295992/ebay-securi
ty-stalking-ecommercebytes-cyberstalking-devin-wenig-james-baugh

Great
work, Ebay! For expanding your repertoire beyond abusing Sellers! This is a company that's going places fast!

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This user has validated their user name. by: JusTrains
Web Site

Thu Jun 18 21:32:21 2020

"...eBay does not tolerate this kind of behavior."

Reall? And yet it still continues to happen, huh? Me thinks you are lying or just outright daft!

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This user has validated their user name. by: JusTrains
Web Site

Thu Jun 18 21:35:34 2020

@Anonymous Annie

Sorry, but it was them. They were identified by name in the Boston Business Journal on Jun 15, 2020 and apparently also in a briefing held by AG Andrew.

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