Lelling: Top Ebay Employees Sent Mass. Couple Box of Cockroaches
Six former employees of eBay, Inc. are accused of launching a complicated scheme to harass and intimidate a couple from Natick, Massachusetts – and allegedly sent the pair a box of live cockroaches, a funeral wreath, and a bloody pig mask.
The six were arrested today and charged with leading a cyberstalking campaign targeting the editor and publisher of a newsletter that eBay executives viewed as critical of the company, the Office of U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling announced.
James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, Calif., eBay’s former Senior Director of Safety & Security, is charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. David Harville, 48, of New York City, eBay’s former Director of Global Resiliency, faces the same charges. The two will appear via videoconference in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.
The following defendants were also charged: Stephanie Popp, 32, of San Jose, eBay’s former Senior Manager of Global Intelligence; Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, Calif., the former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center (GIC); Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, a former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the GIC; and Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, a former Senior Manager of Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team. They are charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses and will make appearances in federal court in Boston.
According to the charging documents, the victims are the editor and publisher of an online newsletter covering e-commerce companies, including eBay. Members of the executive leadership team at eBay followed the newsletter’s posts, often taking issue with its content and posting anonymous comments underneath the editor’s stories, Lelling's office said.
In August 2019, after the newsletter published an article about litigation involving eBay, two members of eBay’s executive leadership team allegedly sent or forwarded text messages suggesting that it was time to “take down” the newsletter’s editor.
In response, Baugh, Harville, Popp, Gilbert, Zea, Stockwell, and others allegedly executed a three-part harassment campaign. Several of the defendants ordered anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home, including a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, a book on surviving the loss of a spouse, and pornography – the last of these addressed to the newsletter’s publisher but sent to his neighbors’ homes.
Some of the defendants allegedly sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter and threatening to visit the couple at their home. Baugh, Gilbert, Popp and an eBay security employee allegedly planned the messages to become increasingly disturbing, culminating with “doxing” the victims -- that is, publishing their home address.
It is alleged that the group intended then to have Gilbert, a former Santa Clara police captain, approach the victims with an offer to help stop the harassment in an effort to generate more favorable coverage in the newsletter.
The group allegedly spied on the victims. According to the complaint, Harville and Zea registered for a software development conference to explain their trip to Boston in August of 2019. Some of the defendants allegedly drove to the couple's home in Natick with the intention of breaking into the victims’ garage to install a GPS tracking device on their car.
Baugh and Harville allegedly carried false documents purporting to show they were investigating the victims as “Persons of Interest” who had threatened eBay executives. The victims spotted the surveillance, however, and notified the Natick police, who began to investigate. The police learned that Zea had rented one of the cars used by the defendants and reached out to eBay for assistance.
Aware that police were investigating, the defendants allegedly sought to interfere by lying to police about eBay’s involvement while pretending to offer the company’s assistance with the harassment. They also allegedly lied to eBay's lawyers about their involvement.
At one point, Baugh, Gilbert, Popp, and Stockwell allegedly plotted to fabricate another eBay “Person of Interest” document that could be offered to the police as a lead. As the police and eBay’s lawyers continued to investigate, the defendants allegedly deleted digital evidence that showed their involvement, further obstructing what had by then become a federal investigation.
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.
U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Natick Chief of Police James G. Hicks made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth B. Kosto and David J. D’Addio of Lelling’s Securities, Financial and Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.