Former eBay US employees to plead guilty to intimidating US couple in alleged cyber-stalking campaign

0
38
Four former eBay US employees have agreed to plead guilty to their roles in a campaign of intimidation that included sending live spiders and cockroaches to the home of a US couple who ran an online newsletter critical of the auction site.

“Four former employees of #eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on October 8 at 2pm via zoom in federal court in #Boston,” a tweet from the official account of the US attorney’s office in Massachusetts confirmed.

“The defendants are charged w/ participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple.”

A placard displays photographs of evidence, a bloody pig mask (L) and a book titled ‘Surviving the Loss of a Spouse,’ (R). (EPA)

The four expected to plead guilty are Brian Gilbert, 51; Stephanie Popp, 32; Stephanie Stockwell, 26; and Veronica Zea, 26, according to The Boston Globe.

All live in San Jose, California, except for Ms Stockwell, who lives in Redwood City, California.

They are among seven former eBay employees charged in the case, in which the Massachusetts couple had other disturbing items sent to their home, including a funeral wreath and a bloody pig Halloween mask.

They are all charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with a witness.

United States District Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew E. Lelling (2-L) announces charges of conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and witness tampering against six former eBay Inc., executives. (EPA)

Their lawyers either declined to comment or didn’t immediately return emails seeking comment yesterday.

The employees also sent pornographic magazines with the husband’s name on them to their neighbour’s house, planned to break into the couple’s garage to install a GPS device on their car, and posted the couple’s names and address online, advertising things like yard sales and encouraging strangers to knock on the door if the pair wasn’t outside, officials said.

The suspects engaged in a “systematic campaign fuelled by the resources of a Fortune 500 company to emotionally and psychologically terrorise this middle-aged couple in Natick,” lawyer Andrew Lelling said at a news conference when charges were announced in June.

The individuals in the criminal complaint are accused of leading a cyberstalking campaign targeting a couple of Natick, Massachusetts, that published a newsletter that the eBay executives viewed as critical of the company. (EPA)

An internal investigation was launched after San Jose, California-based eBay was notified by law enforcement of “suspicious actions by its security personnel,” company officials wrote in a prepared statement. The employees were ultimately fired, the company said.

Ms Popp was a senior manager of global intelligence at eBay; Mr Gilbert was senior manager of special operations for eBay’s Global Security Team; Ms Stockwell was manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Centre; and Ms Zea was an eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the Global Intelligence Centre.

Authorities say they were working at eBay at the of the alleged harassment.

Court documents say the couple was targeted after their newsletter published an article in August 2019 about a lawsuit filed by eBay accusing Amazon of poaching its sellers.