eBay will pay $3 million to resolve criminal charges in a bizarre cyberstalking case

The US attorney’s office in Massachusetts says eBay will pay a $3 million penalty to resolve criminal charges following a harassment campaign conducted by several former executives. Several ex-employees targeted a couple who wrote a newsletter that was critical of the company.

The Justice Department charged eBay with two counts of stalking through interstate travel, two counts of stalking through electronic communications services, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of justice. The $3 million fine was the statutory maximum for the felonies. As part of a deferred prosecution agreement with authorities, eBay also needs to improve its compliance program and retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for three years.

The US attorney’s office says eBay “admitted to a detailed recitation of all the relevant facts about its conduct.” In August 2019, the company’s former senior director of safety and security Jim Baugh and six others carried out a harassment campaign against Ina and David Steiner of Massachusetts. The couple wrote about litigation involving eBay and higher-ups at the company were said to have been frustrated about the negative coverage.

Baugh and his co-conspirators harassed the couple by, among other things, sending them a fetal pig, a funeral wreath and live spiders and cockroaches. According to prosecutors, three of the former eBay employees traveled to the Steiners’ home in the aim of planting a GPS tracking device on their car. The campaign also involved sending harassing messages via Twitter (now X).

Baugh and several others were convicted and sent to prison. One other has admitted to their part in the campaign but has yet to be sentenced.

In a victim impact statement published on their website, the Steiners wrote that “eBay’s actions against us had a damaging and permanent impact on us — emotionally, psychologically, physically, reputationally, and financially — and we strongly pushed federal prosecutors for further indictments to deter corporate executives and board members from creating a culture where stalking and harassment is tolerated or encouraged.”

The pair and Steiner Associates, the publisher of their EcommerceBytes newsletter, have filed a civil lawsuit against eBay and the former employees. A trial has been scheduled for March next year.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/ebay-will-pay-3-million-to-resolve-criminal-charges-in-a-bizarre-cyberstalking-case-213050834.html?src=rss 

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