Live cockroaches, spiders, and fly larvae. A bloody “pig face mask.” A funeral wreath. These are just some of the items sent by a group of eBay employees to harass a couple who ran an ecommerce newsletter that was critical of the company.
On Monday, six former eBay employees, some who were in executive-level positions at the company, were hit with after inflicting a campaign of cyberstalking and harassment on a Natick, Massachusetts couple who ran an ecommerce newsletter. The threats were apparently sparked over what the company’s executives perceived as negative coverage of eBay.
“It was a determined, systematic effort of senior employees of a major company to destroy the lives of a couple in Natick, all because they published content company executives didn’t like,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling in a statement.
The harassment campaign was launched in August 2019 after the company’s then-CEO complained about the newsletter’s coverage of litigation the company was involved in. Text messages were sent by two of eBay’s executive leadership team insinuating that the newsletter’s editor should be “taken down.”
Along with the pig mask and live bugs, the couple unsolicited pornographic material and a book detailing how to “survive the death of a spouse.” The eBay employees also attempted to send the duo a big fetus, however that item never reached its destination.
Former eBay senior director of global security and resiliency James Baugh, former eBay director of global resiliency and security operations David Harville, former eBay senior manager of global intelligence Stephanie Popp, and Brian Gilbert, a former police captain who operated security at eBay’s office were all indicted. Two other former employees, Stephanie Stockwell and Veronica Zea, were also charged.
In a public statement, eBay denied any involvement from the company or any of its current employees in the harassment and threats made towards the couple. The online auction site detailed some information regarding a private investigation that was launched to look into the matter last year.
“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,” the company said in a . “eBay immediately launched a comprehensive investigation…as a result of the investigation, eBay terminated all involved employees, including the Company’s former Chief Communications Officer, in September 2019.”
The company says the investigation also looked into its then-CEO Devin Wenig at the time. While his comments were deemed inappropriate, the company concluded he had no knowledge over what transpired. However, Wenig stepped down from his position at eBay that September too.