Former eBay employees charged with cyber stalking

Ex-security personnel allegedly sent live spiders and a funeral wreath to the publishers of a critical newsletter

Six former senior eBay employees have been charged with launching a campaign to intimidate and terrorise the owners of a website that was critical of the e-commerce website. 

The ex-employees sent sinister items, such as a funeral wreath and a bloody mask of a pigs head, to the door of a Massachusetts couple that edited and published the online newsletter, according to a federal court.  

The group targeted the couple after eBay executives became upset by the newsletters' coverage of the platform. They sent a number of strange items, including live spiders and cockroaches, and attempted to smear the couple by putting their names on pornographic material which they then sent to their neighbours.

According to officials, they also attempted to break into the couple's garage to install a GPS device on their car. 

"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," Massachusetts US attorney, Andrew Lelling, told reporters.

James Baugh, former senior director of safety & security at eBay, and David Harville, the company's director of global resiliency, have been charged with conspiracy to commit cyber stalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.

The other former employees charged are Stephanie Popp, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Stockwell and Veronica Zea.

According to court documents, two members of the group orchestrated the plot to go after the couple because the newsletter published an article about litigation that involved eBay. It cites an unnamed executive that directed Baugh to "take her down",  allegedly referring to the newsletter's editor. 

The employees also set up fake social media accounts to send threatening messages to the couple and posted their names and address online to encourage people to knock on their door.

According to a company statement, eBay launched an internal investigation in August after it was notified by the police of suspicions actions by its security personnel. The employees were fired a month later.

CEO Devin Wenig also stepped down in September, citing differences with the board of directors at the time. The company didn't clarify whether its investigation played a role in his departure.

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