Six former eBay Inc. employees have been charged with waging an extensive campaign to terrorize and intimidate the editor and publisher of an online newsletter with threats and disturbing deliveries to their home, including live spiders and cockroaches, federal authorities said Monday.
The employees plotted to terrify the Massachusetts couple that ran the newsletter with threatening messages and deliveries, like a funeral wreath and a bloody pig face Halloween mask, because executives were enraged about its coverage of the company, Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said.
“This was a determined, systematic effort by senior employees of a major company to destroy the lives of a couple in Natick all because they published content that company executives didn’t like. For a while they succeeded, psychologically devastating these victims for weeks as they desperately tried to figure out what was going on and stop it,” Lelling told reporters.
James Baugh, of San Jose, California, who was eBay’s senior director of safety & security, and David Harville, of New York City, was eBay’s director of global resiliency, are charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to commit witness tampering. The other former eBay employees charged are identified in court documents as Stephanie Popp, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Stockwell, Veronica Zea.
Court documents detail how two members of the company’s executive leadership team orchestrated a plot to go after the couple after the newsletter published an article about litigation involving eBay. One executive who is not named in court documents directed Baugh to “take her down,” referring to the newsletter’s editor, according to court documents. The executive texted another unnamed executive: “We are going to crush this lady,” court documents say.
In addition to the disturbing deliveries, the employees set up fake social media accounts to send threatening messages to the couple, authorities said. After the bloody pig mask was delivered, the editor received a message saying: “DO I HAVE UR ATTENTION NOW????,” according to court documents.
An internal investigation was launched after eBay was notified by law enforcement in August 2019 of “suspicious actions by its security personnel,” company officials wrote in a prepared statement. The employees were fired in September, the company said. The company’s then-CEO Devin Wenig stepped down in September.
Wenig said at the time that he was stepping down over differences with the board of directors and the company didn’t clarify Monday whether this investigation played a role in his departure.
The committee formed by the company’s board of directors to oversee the investigation said eBay “took these allegations very seriously from the outset.”
“Upon learning of them, eBay moved quickly to investigate thoroughly and take appropriate action,” it said.