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: ShortSeller This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 18:34:40 2020

Time for the board to arrange an independent review of all seller accounts to see which accounts have been targeted for harassment by ebay management.  

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.

Mon Jun 15 18:36:48 2020

Well we do know that Wenig now has at least $57 million that he can repay in restitution to those that were targeted.

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

Mon Jun 15 18:37:10 2020

I was devastated to learn that Ina and David are the victims here. I have been reading their newsletter for years and I’ve learned so much that has helped me with my EBay business. These harassers must be punished and the Steiners must be compensated. I always knew that there were some shady people involved in this company, but I had no idea how far these creeps would go. Wishing you both peace of mind, good health and continued success.

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by: Blondebomber This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 18:50:48 2020

Longtime lurker here for years and years, and I just made an account to tell you both how truly sorry I am you were subjected to this type of harassment and abuse.
I’ve been selling on eBay since 1999 and thought I’d seen it all, but nope their depravity continues to astonish.
I hope you receive a financial retribution, you’re wonderful people and I appreciate everything you’ve done and everything you’ve gone through.
Sending you love and surrounding you with a white light of protection.

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by: Blondebomber This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 18:55:22 2020

“In our experience, we have not seen something like this, at least not recently," Lelling told reporters. "This case really stood out for us, both for the effort to intimidate and terrorize the couple, and the extent ... the goal and, at least as alleged in the complaint, the really elaborate steps taken to effectuate that goal."

I’m so sorry for what you went through.

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

by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 18:55:33 2020

Story just made nation news on TV with ABC Nightly News

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

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Jun 15 19:14:02 2020

Ina and David,
I am deeply and sincerely sorry to hear you had to endure this.  It had to be very scary and unnerving to say the least.  I can't even imagine how difficult it has been on you and your family.  There of course is no excuse for the behavior and I hope there is justice for the both of you when this case wraps up.

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

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Jun 15 19:16:06 2020

Well this could answer the question of Wenig's sudden departure from Ebay!!!

There is no justification for this behavior or what they did to Ina and David.  NONE

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

by: Jairib This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 20:16:33 2020

Former Ebay CEO Devin Wenig also left the company that month. While he isn’t named in the criminal complaint, Ebay confirmed that he is “Executive 1” who allegedly gave the initial order to “Take her down”     .://www.wired.com/story/ebay-employees-charged-cyberstalking-harassmen
t-campaign/

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by: beuler This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 20:30:03 2020

Useless going after the monkeys, they need to go after the one who ordered the employees to 'burn them down'. 26 year olds, making 200K year pretty much lick boot poop if told.. have to go after you know who.

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

by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 20:38:35 2020

How many times have we all said that eBay is the San Jose mafia? Only a million !

eBay IS the culture of corruption and things needs to be changed ASAP

I’ve always known what kind of scum eBay was - but to “target” 2 innocent people who just gave a forum and a voice to the rest of us - is unconscionable

Im “waiting” for the usuals to come back in here and tell us about how wonderful eBay is - so I can tare them a new one.

Lying cheating stealing is de rigur for the mafia in CA but this is a new level

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

by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 20:41:36 2020

HMMM....I guess the saying you reap what you sow is true.

Walmart surpasses eBay in U.S. e-commerce for the first time, Amazon still tops: eMarketer  

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by: Tubular Sales This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 20:52:24 2020

From the WSJ which was also targeted by Dimwit Devin:

"Later, after an unspecified EcommerceBytes post on May 31, Mr. Wenig texted: “Take her down.” At another point, he also used an expletive to refer to The Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the company. “The journal is next on the list,” he said in the text, according to the complaint. It couldn’t be determined if the Journal or any of its reporters was targeted."

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Jun 15 21:32:26 2020

@RL15

I doubt any "cheerleaders" here will be backing eBay on this one.

Look how David & Ina had to keep this to themselves until arrests were made.

I bet they still can't tell us the juicy details.

Maybe someday, maybe.

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

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Jun 15 21:37:37 2020

Can we prove that eBay went after ecommerce.com posters?

Were our accounts put on hold or "hidden" because of what we posted here?

sniff sniff I smell class action!

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

by: Opalie This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 21:38:27 2020

David & Ina, so sorry you had to go through this.

Sweetnam's post claims this is not systemic. I beg to differ.

While the results pale against what the Steiner's have been through, maybe someone at ebay should check out the targeted harassment and banning of many of the previous board posters (both sellers AND buyers) ever since the reign of Jeff Terrell and the latest ex community "leader'.

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

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Mon Jun 15 21:53:38 2020

Talk about stranger than fiction. It's a wonder Ina didn't wake up one morning and find a horse's head in her bed. Hopefully Ina and David get millions.

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Mon Jun 15 21:56:46 2020

Shocked and unsettling are too mild of a descriptive to describe the horror Ina and David endured. To think that six (SIX!) eBay executives were in on a orchestrated campaign of terror...it is simply mind-boggling. I am heartbroken that this fine couple had to battle not one, not two, but three incredibly disruptive layers in an already topsy-turvy year. My sympathies and deepest concern for both of you. Thank you for your work, Ina and David, and soldiering through what must have been an extremely frightening and prolonged event. G-d bless you.  

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

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Mon Jun 15 21:58:02 2020

Now I am wondering if that extra shipping coupon was meant to be a salve for what eBay knew to be an imminently breaking story...

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

by: stage_won This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 15 22:10:50 2020

I think many of us suspected for a long time shenanigans happening behind the scenes at ebay. Thank goodness David & Ina survived this. I believe this goes deeper than ebay and includes much of Silicon Valley. I became suspicious when I found out Google had implemented a social credit system in China.

I had a bad feeling it was going to end up here in the US. With reading complaints from sellers in the last few years and other online folks, I do believe it was well on the way to being here too. If you don't do or say what Silicon Valley wanted, you would be punished with your online presence diminished. Many here felt that wrath, including me. I do believe this corruption is much bigger than anyone imagines and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  

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