I. Former eBay employee gets 18 months in prison for ‘abominable’ cyberstalking campaign (7/27/21)
By Nate Raymond
Former eBay employee gets 18 months in prison for ‘abominable’ cyberstalking campaign
Former California police captain to be sentenced in eBay cyberstalking case
[1/4] Former police captain who went on to work for eBay Inc Philip Cooke arrives at court for sentencing in his cyberstalking case in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., July 27, 2021. REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi
BOSTON, July 27 (Reuters) – A former supervisor for security operations at eBay Inc (EBAY.O) was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 months in prison for his role in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple whose online newsletter was viewed as critical of the e-commerce company.
Federal prosecutors in Boston said Philip Cooke, a retired police captain in Santa Clara, California, and other employees participated in a scheme to harass the couple through Twitter and by sending them disturbing packages, including live cockroaches.
U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs called the employees’ actions “really abominable” as she sentenced Cooke, who must also serve a year of home detention and pay a $15,000 fine.
“It’s almost unfathomable to me,” Burroughs said. “I’m not sure if I saw it on television I would find it believable.”
Both of the victims, David and Ina Steiner, spoke in court, describing to the judge a bizarre, nightmarish ordeal that left them afraid to leave their home in Natick, Massachusetts, and concerned for their safety.
“We were terrified,” Ina Steiner said.
Cooke, a former supervisor of security operations at eBay’s European and Asian offices, was the first of seven former eBay workers who have been charged in the case to be sentenced. Four others have also pleaded guilty.
Prosecutors said Cooke participated in an August 2019 planning meeting in which eBay employees discussed targeting the couple with threatening messages; unwanted deliveries like a bloody Halloween pig mask; and covert surveillance.
They did so after two top executives, including former Chief Executive Devin Wenig, expressed frustration with the newsletter, EcommerceBytes, according to prosecutors and a lawsuit the couple filed.
Prosecutors said Wenig texted the other executive after the newsletter’s editor published an article about eBay, saying it was time to “take her down.” Wenig was never charged and has denied knowing about the scheme.
Cooke, in court, said he should have sought to prevent what became “horrific behavior to please the boss.”
“It’s crystal clear this was all wrong from start to finish,” he said.
II. Former eBay executive to plead guilty to cyberstalking campaign targeting couple (4/19/22)
By Nate Raymond
Former eBay executive to plead guilty to cyberstalking campaign targeting couple
The eBay app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken
An eBay sign is seen at an office building in San Jose, California
[1/2] The eBay app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
BOSTON, April 19 (Reuters) – A former eBay Inc (EBAY.O) security executive intends to plead guilty to federal charges that he planned a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple whose online newsletter was seen as critical of the e-commerce company.
James Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, had been awaiting trial in Boston with another ex-executive accused of helping harass the couple through Twitter and with disturbing deliveries like a bloody Halloween pig mask and live cockroaches.
At the request of Baugh’s lawyers, a federal judge on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for him to instead plead guilty on April 25. A May 31 trial remains scheduled for his co-defendant, David Harville, eBay’s former director of global resiliency.
William Fick, a lawyer for Baugh, declined to comment.
Baugh is one of seven former eBay workers who were charged in 2020 with harassing the married couple in Natick, Massachusetts, behind the newsletter EcommerceBytes.
They did so after two top executives, including former Chief Executive Officer Devin Wenig, expressed frustration with the newsletter, according to prosecutors and a lawsuit the couple, David and Ina Steiner, filed against eBay.
Prosecutors said the Steiners in August 2019 began receiving anonymous, harassing private messages on Twitter and disturbing deliveries to their home that also included fly larvae, spiders and a funeral wreath.
Prosecutors said Baugh planned the threatening messages and deliveries with employees and contractors who reported to him and traveled with some to Massachusetts to surveil the couple.
After learning that Natick police were investigating, Baugh and others deleted messages from their social media accounts, and he lied to eBay investigators by denying that its employees were involved, prosecutors said.
Five other former eBay workers have pleaded guilty. Wenig was not charged and has denied knowing about the scheme. eBay has said it is in settlement talks with the couple.