Six former employees of eBay are charged with being involved in a cyberstalking conspiracy after federal investigations uncovered a string of bizarre acts perpetrated on a couple who run an e-commerce newsletter out of Natick, Massachusetts. Prosecutors say the acts happened while the accused were employees of eBay.
According to the complaint filed in Massachusetts District Court, the employees worked together to harass and terrorize the couple, who they believed were causing harm to eBay by writing negative things about the company in their newsletter. Neither the victims nor the newsletter are being named in the courts.
Court records show that the accused sent a box of live cockroaches to the couples’ house, as well as fly larvae and live spiders; they ordered a preserved fetal pig to be sent but it never made it, and instead, a Halloween mask in the form of a bloody pig face showed up, according to court records.
The six are also accused of sending an issue of “Hustler: Barely Legal” pornography magazine to the couple’s neighbor’s home with the couple’s name on it.
They also sent a funeral wreath and a book on how to survive after the loss of a spouse to the couple’s home, the complaint said.
One of the victims started getting emails they did not sign up for from organizations like “The Communist Party,” “The Satanic Temple” and “Cat Faeries,” according to the complaint.
The couple was harassed via social media by the former eBay employees with threatening tweets and messages, according to court records. Prosecutors say the accused posted ads on Craigslist inviting people over for parties at the couple’s house that said come any time of night, with an emphasis on inviting college students and swingers. The posts included the couple’s home address.
Another ad said they were leaving the country and having a huge garage sale, according to the complaint.
In another Craigslist post, prosecutors say, the accused men and women wrote a Craigslist ad posing as the couple that said they were looking for anyone or multiple people “open to exploring threesomes, bdsm (bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, sadism and masochism) and cross dressing.”
Of Those Arrested, 2 Were Former Department Directors & 3 Had Been Managers
Though the six people were just arrested on Monday, the investigation began in August 2019. At that time all of those under investigation were fired from eBay.
According to U.S. Department of Justice, the accused are:
- James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, California, eBay’s former Senior Director of Safety & Security.
- David Harville, 48, of New York City, New York, eBay’s former Director of Global Resiliency.
- Stephanie Popp, 32, of San Jose, eBay’s former Senior Manager of Global Intelligence.
- Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, California, 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.
- Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, a former Senior Manager of Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team.
According to court documents, the accused were aware they were under investigation and took measures to cover their tracks. Court documents include correspondence among the accused, information about their travels to Natick and evidence of harassment traced back to the digital devices belonging to the accused. “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,” a press release from the Department of Justice states.
They are each charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. If convicted they could be sentenced to up to five years in prison followed by three years of probation and/or a $250,000 fine and possible restitution.
A U.S State Attorney Said the Middle-Aged Couple Was Terrorized by the eBay Employees in an Effort to Make Them Stop Writing Negative Things About eBay in Their Newsletter
In a press conference, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling spoke about the psychological torture the couple endured, saying, “For a while, they succeeded [in] psychologically devastating these victims for weeks. The result as alleged in the complaint was a systematic campaign fueled by the resources of a Fortune 500 company to emotionally and psychologically terrorize this middle-aged couple in Natick, with the goal of deterring them from writing bad things online about eBay.”
Court documents note that the husband and wife told police “the harassment caused them distress during and after the harassment campaign. Both complained of lost sleep, physical symptoms of anxiety, concern about what would happen to them next, and when in public, a fear that they were being followed.”
In fact, according to the court documents, some of the accused had traveled to Natick to surveil the home and follow the couple. It is not clear what the exact intention was.
A statement from eBay 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.