Hey eBay, are you okay? We just heard that a bunch of your (former) executives and employees conducted a terrifying harassment campaign against a couple of bloggers you didn’t like. That’s not cool, eBay.
In fact, it’s so not cool that six former staffers were just indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.
According to public court documents, this group of eBay employees harassed and threatened an unnamed husband-and-wife blogging team. What did these bloggers do to earn such wrath? They posted a critical review on the company on their website.
“eBay executives were not merely unhappy with the couple’s coverage — they were enraged,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said at a press conference on Monday. “The result, as alleged in the complaint, is 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.”
The campaign included sending the following items to the couple:
In addition to the harassing and threatening materials delivered to their own doorstep, it gets worse. The eBay employees allegedly sent explicit adult material to the couple’s neighbors. The material was addressed to the couple but sent to nearby addresses. This ensured that their neighbors would receive it–and thereby damage the couple’s reputation.
They also set up fake social media accounts (known as “sock puppets”) to attack the couple online. They created fake Craigslist ads inviting people to sex parties at the couple’s house. The group even threatened to “dox” the couple, or reveal their personal information and home address online.
Unbelievably, two of the eBay employees actually went to Boston, broke into the couple’s garage, and put a GPS device on their vehicle in order to follow them.
“This was a determined, systematic effort by senior employees of a major company to destroy the lives of a couple,” Lelling said.
These were not low-ranking employees, either. The court documents name eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, the director of global resiliency (whatever that means), and other members of the global intelligence team. The indictment also included Brian Gilbert, who was a captain with the Santa Clara police department before joining eBay’s global security team.
In short, these were people who should have known better than to commit such disturbing and malicious acts.
They’ve been charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. When they were caught by law enforcement, the group attempted to falsify documents. They even gave the police fake descriptions of suspects to divert attention from themselves.
For its part, eBay claims they first heard about the cyberstalking activities in 2019. eBay fired all the indicted employees in September of last year. However, the conspiracy to harass the couple allegedly went even further up the corporate ladder. Then-CEO Devin Wenig communicated with the employees about the cyberstalking. It is not clear whether he gave his approval of their behavior.