Six former eBay employees accused of cyberstalking Massachusetts couple
BOSTON -- Six former eBay employees have been charged in federal court in connection with a cyberstalking campaign against a couple that ran a newsletter that was critical of the company. The former employees are accused of sending the couple threatening messages and packages, including a box of live cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody pig mask.
The arrests were announced in a press conference and press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office - District of Massachusetts on Monday.
- James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, Calif., eBay’s former Senior Director of Safety & Security, was charged 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 charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
- Stephanie Popp, 32, of San Jose, eBay’s former Senior Manager of Global Intelligence, was charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
- Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, Calif., the former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center (GIC), was charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
- Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, a former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the GIC, was charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
- Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, a former Senior Manager of Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team, was charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
The victims of the alleged cyberstalking campaign published an online newsletter about ecommerce companies.
Prosecutors say eBay employees followed the newsletter's posts and had issues with the content and comments on the stories.
In August 2019, two members of eBay's executive leadership team sent or forwarded texts saying it was time to "take down" the editor, reports said.
As a result, all six and others made ordered and delivered the following items to the victims' home: a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, a book on surviving the loss of a spouse, investigators say.
In addition, pornography, addressed to one of the victims, was sent to their neighbor's home, reports said.
During the second phase of their cyberstalking campaign, prosecutors allege employees sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter's content and threats to visit the victims at their home, reports said.
The employees intended for the online harassment to become increasingly disturbing and culminate in revealing the home address of the victims, reports said.
Then, Gilbert, a former police officer, was going to approach the victims and offer to help end the harassment, which they believed would promote goodwill towards eBay, generate favorable coverage in the newsletter and identify the people behind the anonymous comments, the press release said.
In the third phase of the campaign, Harville and Zea registered for a conference in Boston in order to explain their trip to the city. When there, Baugh, Harville, Zea and Popp drove to the victims' home several times, reports said.
Harville and Baugh had intended to break into the victims' garage and put a GPS tracker on their car, reports said.
If they were stopped by local police, they had intended to show false documents alleging the victims were "persons of interest" who had threatened company executives, reports said.
The victims discovered the surveillance and notified their local police.
When police learned Zea had rented the car used in the surveillance, police contacted eBay for assistance, reports said.
Investigators say the defendants lied about the company's involvement and pretended to offer the company's assistance with the harassment and allegedly lied to eBay lawyers about their involvement.
Prosecutors allege Baugh, Gilbert, Popp, and Stockwell planned to create another "person of interest" document to give police as a lead on the deliveries to the victims, reports said.
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.
eBay released the following statement:
eBay Inc. 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.