Four former eBay employees are set to plead guilty to cyberstalking charges at US district court in a fortnight’s time.
“Four former employees of #eBay are scheduled to plead guilty on October 8 at 2pm via zoom in federal court in #Boston,” The Massachusetts Attorney’s office confirmed on Wednesday in a Twitter post.
“The defendants are charged w/ participating in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a Massachusetts couple.”
The four charged individuals — Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Stephanie Stockwell, and Veronica Zea — and two eBay directors allegedly allegedly engaged in an extensive harassment campaign in a bid to intimidate a married Massachuesetts couple.
The two eBay directors, James Baugh and David Harville, are currently not charged, but they have been named as co-conspirators in the ongoing criminal case.
The scheme was established after several eBay executives perceived the married couple, who run an online e-commerce newsletter, to be a threat to the company’s public image, according to the allegations.
In an affidavit filed by Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent Mark Wilson, the executives allegedly sent text messages to each other that disparaged the couple.
Some of the texts were “We are going to crush this lady” and “Take her down”, according to Wilson.
eBay’s former CEO Devin Wenig is reportedly one of the executives that expressed disdain for the couple, according to Bloomberg.
As part of the scheme, the six individuals allegedly sent hostile messages on Twitter, ordered unwanted and disturbing deliveries, and travelled to the victims’ home and community to intimate the married couple.
After this distress was caused, Gilbert allegedly contacted the victims — identifying as an eBay employee — to express concern surrounding the online harassment and offer help. According to the complaint, the intimidation was part of a larger plan for eBay to arrive to “rescue” the victims from the harassment in order to earn goodwill and positive coverage in the newsletter.
In June, eBay said that it saw 6 million new and reactivated buyers from April through May as stay-at-home orders shuttered physical stores and sparked a surge in online shopping.
The increase in active buyers led to stronger than results for the company’s second quarter, eBay said.
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