Four former employees of eBay are expected to plead guilty for their role in a bizarre harassment campaign in 2019 in which they allegedly sent live spiders, cockroaches, a funeral wreath, and a bloody pig-head Halloween mask to a Boston couple who criticized the online marketplace.
The victims drew attention from the alleged perpetrators after they chastised eBay in an online newsletter that focused on e-commerce companies.
The four defendants, all former members of eBay’s global security team, are Brian Gilbert, 51; Stephanie Popp, 32; Stephanie Stockwell, 26; and Veronica Zea, 26; all from California. The charges include conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with a witness, with such crimes carrying a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution.
The cases against three others — David Harville, 48, eBay’s former director of global resiliency; James Baugh, 45, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security; and Philip Cooke, 55, who dealt with security operations at some eBay offices — are ongoing.
The office of U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling announced the expected guilty pleas in a tweet posted on Wednesday, September 23, saying, “Four former employees of #eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 8 at 2pm via zoom in federal court in #Boston. The defendants are charged w/ participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple.”
Four former employees of #eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 8 at 2pm via zoom in federal court in #Boston. The defendants are charged w/ participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple.
— U.S. Attorney MA (@DMAnews1) September 23, 2020
Besides sending the couple an assortment of disturbing oddities, a number of the defendants also allegedly sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content and threatening to visit the couple at their home. A number of the defendants are also believed to have traveled to Massachusetts to spy on the couple, with a plan to attach a GPS tracker to the couple’s car. The victims spotted the surveillance efforts and contacted local police, who launched an investigation.
Speaking about the case at a press conference earlier this year, Lelling described the alleged behavior against the victims as a “systematic campaign fueled by the resources of a Fortune 500 company to emotionally and psychologically terrorize this middle-aged couple.”
When asked for comment, eBay referred Digital Trends to a statement it released earlier this year. The company said in the statement that it took the allegations “very seriously from the outset,” adding that it “does not tolerate this kind of behavior.” Following its own investigation, eBay fired all of the accused employees in September 2019.
Updated on September 24, 2020: Revised to include the response from eBay.