Six former eBay employees have been charged with cyberstalking a Massachusetts couple who publish a newsletter that company executives viewed as critical of the California eCommerce corporation, according to a press release from U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in Boston.
The alleged harassment included sending anonymous, threatening messages, disturbing deliveries, including a box of cockroaches, a funeral wreath and a bloody pig mask, the release states. In addition, they allegedly conducted covert surveillance of the victims.
Federal investigators alleged after the newsletter published an article about litigation involving eBay last summer, two members of eBay’s executive leadership sent text messages suggesting that it was time to “take down” the newsletter’s editor, according to the release.
“It goes pretty far up the chain at eBay,” Lelling said Monday at a news conference, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
The release states that former eBay employees arrested on Monday (June 15) included James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, California former senior director of safety and security, and David Harville, 48, of New York City, former director of global resiliency. They were both charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and witness tampering.
In addition, the release states that following defendants also face the same charges: Stephanie Popp, 32, of San Jose, California, eBay’s former senior manager of global Intelligence; Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, California., former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center; Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, a former eBay contractor; and Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, a former senior manager of special operations.
During the campaign, some of the defendants allegedly sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content and threatened to visit the victims where they lived, according to the release. The documents allege Baugh, Gilbert, Popp and another eBay security employee planned the messages to become increasingly disturbing, culminating with publishing the victims home address.
Another phase of the stalking campaign allegedly involved covertly surveilling the victims in their home and community, according to the release. The victims spotted the surveillance and contacted police, who launched the investigation.
Aware that the police were onto them, 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, investigators allege, according to the release.
The charges each carry a sentence of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
In a statement, eBay said it does not tolerate such behavior.
“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 statement said, according to WSJ.