Six former eBay employees have been accused of sending a box of live cockroaches and a pig fetus to a Massachusetts couple as part of a campaign to harass them for publishing a newsletter critical of the online auction site.
James Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety & security, and David Harville, former director of global resiliency, were both arrested Monday on federal charges of conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
According to law enforcement, Baugh, Harville and the four other defendants — Stephanie Popp, Stephanie Stockwell, Veronica Zea, and Brian Gilbert — targeted the publishers in August 2019 after two members of eBay’s executive leadership team suggested it was time to “take down” the newsletter’s editor.
“The result … was a systematic campaign, fueled by the resources of a Fortune 500 company, to emotionally and psychologically terrorize this middle-aged couple in Natick with the goal of deterring them from writing bad things online about eBay,” Andrew E. Lelling, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, told reporters.
Among other things, several of the defendants allegedly ordered “anonymous and disturbing deliveries” to the victims’ home in Natick, Mass., including a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse.
A few days after the mask arrived at the victims’ home, they allegedly “received a box of cockroaches” that was purchased from a roach breeder and seller.
The couple’s newsletter covers e-commerce companies. “Members of the executive leadership team at eBay followed the newsletter’s posts, often taking issue with its content and the anonymous comments underneath the editor’s stories,” the Department of Justice said.
The newsletter’s editor “is [a] biased troll who needs to get BURNED DOWN,” one eBay executive allegedly wrote another in a text message.
The government also said the harassment involved covertly surveilling the victims in their home and community, with Harville and Baugh intending at one point to break into their garage and install a GPS tracking device on their car.
The couple spotted the surveillance and notified Natick police, who began an investigation.