Disturbing reports have surfaced of a diabolical scheme that eBay executives hatched to harass and cyber-stalk a couple in Natick, Massachusetts. The couple (whose names shall remain anonymous) work as editor and publisher of EcommerceBytes, an online newsletter that covers eCommerce companies. Over the years, the newsletter has been known to post unfavorable opinions of eBay. In retaliation, six former eBay employees devised a scheme to harass the couple in order to force them to stop painting the company in a negative light. Now, these six individuals have been charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. They will make appearances in federal court in Boston at a later date.
The Six eBay Executives Charged with Cyberstalking the Natick, MA Couple
The eBay executives charged with criminal cyberstalking the Natick couple are as follows:
- James Baugh, 45 – Senior Director of Safety & Security
- David Harville, 48 – Director of Global Resiliency
- Stephanie Popp, 32 – Senior Manager of Global Intelligence
- Stephanie Stockwell, 26 – Manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center
- Veronica Zea, 26 – Contractor working as an intelligence analyst in the Global Intelligence Center
- Brian Gilbert, 51 – Senior Manager of Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team
The Extent of the Executives’ Harassment “Campaign”
Over the years, members of eBay’s executive team followed the couple’s newsletter, and often took issue with how eBay was portrayed. According to reports, the last straw that set the criminal activity in motion occurred in August 2019. At that time, the Natick couple published a post on their newsletter revealing litigation against eBay. Then, upon reading the post, two members of eBay’s executive leadership team sent messages stating it was time to “take down” the newsletter’s editor.
In response, the six aforementioned eBay executives began enacting their harassment campaign, broken down into three phases that we’ve outlined below.
Phase one of the executives’ “campaign” involved ordering disturbing deliveries to the couple’s home. These deliveries included a box of live cockroaches, a preserved fetal pig, a funeral wreath, a book on surviving a spouse’s death, a bloody pig Halloween mask, and pornography.
After ordering the previously mentioned deliveries, the eBay executives enacted their second phase of their campaign. This included sending the couple anonymous threatening messages via Twitter. Documents allege that some of the six eBay executives planned these messages to grow increasingly disturbing, culminating with “doxing” the victims (meaning to publish their home address on the internet).
Allegedly, the executives then intended to have Brian Gilbert approach the victims in a false act of sincerity. As a former Santa Clara police captain, Gilbert planned to present an offer to help stop the harassment the defendants were secretly causing. In turn, the eBay executives hoped this twisted effort would promote good will towards eBay, generate more favorable coverage in the couple’s newsletter, and “identify” the individuals behind the anonymous comments.
Lastly, the executives’ final phase of their campaign involved spying on the couple, and attempting to invade their privacy. Baugh, Harville, Zea, and Popp allegedly drove to the victims’ home in Natick on several occasions. Harville and Baugh also intended to break into the victims’ garage and install a tracking device on their car. However, the couple luckily noticed the surveillance, and proceeded to contact local authorities. That’s when the Natick police began investigating, which led to them eventually notifying eBay.
The Charges the Defendants Now Face
It’s not just the harrowing details of the “harassment campaign” that make this story so unsettling. Simply put, this is big news because eBay is such a large, publicly-traded company. It is the premier digital exchange platform in the world, and a disruptor of the retail industry. In fact, eBay is one of the first entities that paved the way for eCommerce as we know it today. These six executives didn’t simply “go rouge”; this was corporate-sanctioned intimidation from high-ranking employees at one of the world’s most prominent corporations.
Of course, in response to the allegations, eBay fired all six employees as soon as these reports surfaced. Now, the defendants await sentencing in Boston’s court of law. The charges of conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses each carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution.
As for the executives’ motivation behind such malevolent and criminal acts, reasons are still unclear. Perhaps this “harassment campaign” against the Natick couple was a vendetta that carried deeper, more personal ties. Perhaps it is simply a case of company loyalty taken too far. Regardless, as new eCommerce platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce continue to capture greater market share of newer eCommerce businesses, it appears these six eBay executives were grasping at sinister straws to help their (former) employer stay relevant in an ever-changing space.