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: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 03:28:14 2020

Oh, by the way...I just remembered that I was actually "welcomed" back to the Etsy community a few months ago (March, was it?). Interesting they would do this now after eBay was caught. The funny thing is I no longer sell there because I refuse to do business with crooks.

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by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 03:36:19 2020

Wow, I just read the wired.com article. From there,  I also read the 56 page report from the US District Court criminal complaint. It's totally disgusting.  

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

Tue Jun 16 03:44:47 2020

Just read that when these crooks went to Boston they stayed at the Ritz Carlton on our dollars to do this harassment and in addition spent $750 for 3 of them to sit in a restaurant and throw ideas around as to what to do next.  This company throws their money away on things like this and Walkers West extravagances but does not want to spend decent money on good programmers to fix their platform.  They definitely have their priorities completely mixed up.  I really hope now that this has all come to light and the fact that Wenig started it regardless of what the BOD wants to admit that Ebay can somehow go after that completely unearned Golden Parachute that looks more and more like a bribe for his silence about these issues especially since he was terminated for cause.  If not, I hope that the Justice Department hits him with a $57 million restitution to Ina and David and if not that they are able to sue him in civil court for whatever the DOJ does not give them.

All they did was tell the truth about what a con man he is and how he was stealing from the shareholders while lying through his teeth about everything that was going on at Ebay.  I still remember that site where one of the employees that had left Ebay stated that they left because of all of the ways that Wenig was coming up with to rip off the sellers with known glitches and then if it was discovered of course it never seemed to be able to be fixed.  Nothing but a common thief and con man to the end.  At least now maybe he will get to spend some time behind bars and see what jail food, beds, clothing and lack of alcohol are like, even if it is only for a couple of years.  He definitely should never be able to hold a job with any other public company now that this is out about his standards or lack thereof.

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by: papergoy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 06:16:48 2020

Stop and think about it this way.  This is a horrible story.  But I could see the local auto repair shop having a dispute with another auto repair shop up the road and a car window gets broken and a week later tires are slashed.  This is penny-ante business stuff- NOT what anyone would expect a billion dollar company to do.  I liken it to my missing a payment with Mastercard and the next day a couple of big goons show up at my door to break my legs to teach me a lesson about paying on time.  I wish I were a company that helped companies rebuild their brand as once this really gets out to the public, eBay will be spending a boatload of money on "consultants".  Pretty sure they're lining up with their hands out already.

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by: papergoy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 06:27:25 2020

And I can apologize when I'm wrong.  I've always said about the people who were paranoid (and I guess it's not paranoia if people are really after you) that if I were the CEO of eBay, I'd look at sites like this and the first thing I'd do is contact people who were afraid of retribution to find out why they felt that way as a site needs its customers to trust it.  I guess eBay did want to reach out them...just not in any kind of reasonable manner.  I know one YouTuber had some black Americana taken down over the weekend, and I've started a channel which has been a little critical at times of eBay and I ended up with two Little Black Sambos taken down over the weekend- despite there being 126 other ones up that are apparently fine to list.  Maybe they are still at it and haven't learned their lesson (if so, I'll gladly be part of the class action lawsuit).  Insane story and I hope if true, all of those involved no matter how high up the chain it goes gets the maximum sentence to a real prison- no "probation for ten years and a million dollar fine..." as that's chicken feed to some of the people who may have been involved.  How about ten years at a prison with lifers?  

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by: acc756 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 06:54:02 2020

I am so sorry that Ina and David were put through this.  Some of the news articles make it sound mostly like juvenile pranks, but if you read the entire criminal complaint, it was definitely more than that and I can't even imagine what you all have been through.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Howard

Tue Jun 16 07:12:40 2020

Ina and David, I'm so sorry for the torment that you went through at the hands of eBay employees and executives. I'm very glad that law enforcement successfully addressed the situation and brought them to justice. I hope you can successfully sue the individuals involved and eBay itself for monetary compensation. Please continue to ''comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable''. Keep up the good work!

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by: Russ This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 07:26:55 2020

Still rubbing my eyes (sorry, CDC) over this one.  

Talk about bullies and an even more sinister plot than the most evil bully on the playground could conjure.  I always wondered when eBay would garner such publicity...just never thought this would be the tactics to which a large corporation would stoop....I've been wrong before---ya think?

I left eBay around four years ago after a bogus claim of damage from a buyer resulted in her keeping the item along with her (my) money.  I was always trying to figure out a way and an angle to involve one of Tampa Bay's local news channel's consumer reporters in the antics of eBay...Not to worry, patience has won out..

I cannot imagine the terror experienced by the targets of this sick, demented plot.  As has been said, ''you can't make this s**t up.''
I hope the victims' journey forward will be steady, healing and well-compensated by the courts.
I'll look forward to watching justice prevail!

Best wishes and keep up the good work.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 07:40:56 2020

I too was afraid it was Ina and Dave--WHAT a horrific experience and how do these sociopaths end up at eBay??? Who HIRES this kind of whacko? I have had so many bad experiences at eBay since 1996, but nothing like this. I am so glad they got nailed.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Tue Jun 16 07:43:49 2020

Wow!  So sorry Ina. I am so glad that you and yours are safe.  This  level of sociopathic behavior by executives is disturbing and it could have escalated even more.

Thank you for reporting the truth all of these years and having the backs of those of us who have been met with eBay's hurricane force headwinds of unfairness straight on.  I am really sorry that you and your family had to go through this.

When all of the dust settles, I am hoping that the next step of the investigation will be to see how many of us (posters) were identified by eBay and what lengths they went to to stifle our voices and our eBay sales.

Stay safe and strong Ina, and keep doing what you do best.  I for one am most grateful.  You have truly made a difference.  In light of these events I know that more now than I ever have.

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by: RCL This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 07:47:31 2020

Oh--I saw Annie and thought the Steiners were NOT the targets; but when i read it online yesterday, they were my first concern. At THIS time, in this time of stress and suffering, how did our editors keep their life together during such intimidation??!!!! THAT anonymous violence is terror writ large. Cheers to our FBI.

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by: Kingswood This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 08:06:51 2020

So sad to hear about what they did to you Ina. I haven't posted here for many years but just want to send support for the great work you have always done. eBay are a disgusting fraudulent company.

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by: Frank Abagnale This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 08:36:25 2020

I wonder who "Executive 2" is from the report. Wenig left Sept 25. Julie Nestor (Chief Marketing Officer) left Sept 12. I wonder if it's a coincidence.  

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 08:44:04 2020

This, from the executive wing of a company who staunchly ‘defended’ the rights of ‘their’ customers to post whatever claptrap damaging review they wanted against a seller, under an umbrella of being “just their opinion” - yet using it as a control device as if it were based on ‘facts’.

Too bad that systemic hypocrisy isn’t a crime.

With courage and persistence accompanying, truth always surfaces. Thanks to the Steiner,s it will now. How fittingly karmic eBay should now be exposed by the objective, measurable truth of their eCom depravity. And as others have noted, if they’ve done this against our hosts, what would keep them from doing it to any seller who would dare to try to ‘expose’ any given impropriety by eBay associated with a single sale, not to mention a seller’s presence eBay might find uncomfortably at odds with their eCom megalomania?

So, for those of you who might still be willing to ‘trust’ in eBay’s benign ‘partnership’ to bolster personal success - really? This isn’t even enough to give pause? Bear in mind, guilt by association though may be not ‘true’, may give buyers pause though.



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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 08:45:31 2020

"...figure out the identity of one particularly vociferous commenter."

I'm guessing that would be Pace.

eBay can FREELY have my info - Ive threatened to sue them a few times over their fake VERO crap.

Im not afraid of them.

Im afraid of what they would do to innocent people like David & Ina for doing nothing more then letting OTHERS speak their minds.

eBay has no limits on what they would do - to anyone that gets in their way - of stealing money on a scale never before seen (except Enron).

Much respect to you guys ! :)

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

Tue Jun 16 09:23:05 2020

Looks like the penalties are going to be fairly stiff for those involved. Not only did they cyberstalk and threaten... they also destroyed evidence, created false evidence, and interfered with an ongoing investigation. --- That's some serious stuff! There will be some JAIL TIME and serious fines for those who are found guilty.

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 09:46:45 2020

The ebay moral compass...always pointing $outh.

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

Tue Jun 16 09:53:14 2020

Honestly... I want to see perp-walks and mug-shots! They're still hiding in the shadows of internet obscurity. They need to be exposed, revealed and humiliated.

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by: Kingswood This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 09:58:26 2020

Wenig instigated this. He should be charged. Can't wait to see him as a respondent to the civil suit.

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by: rudestar This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 16 10:12:57 2020

Kiss this blog goodbye!
Ina will be too busy decorating the yacht.

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