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Two former eBay executives sentenced to prison for involvement in cyberstalking scheme

For their role in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted a couple who wrote an e-commerce blog that was thought to be critical of the company, two former eBay executives were sentenced to prison on Thursday.

The former senior director of safety and security for eBay, James Baugh, received a sentence of almost five years in prison, while David Harville, the former director of global resiliency, received a term of two years in prison. Both individuals admitted guilt in this instance.

In 2019, Baugh, Harville, and several other eBay officials launched an effort to harass Ina and David Steiner, the editor and publisher of eCommercebytes, a website that online merchants pay special attention to. According to the prosecution, the officials went after the couple because former eBay CEO Devin Wenig and other corporate executives were furious with their coverage of the business.

Prosecutors stated in a statement that what transpired was a weird and complex “three-part harassment campaign” that was meant to “intimidate” the Steiners and affect how they reported on the firm.

The couple received numerous insulting and threatening Tweets from eBay executives. The campaign intensified when the Steiners started receiving “disturbing delivery” to their house outside of Boston, including live insects, a funeral wreath, a bloody pig mask, a foetal pig, a book on surviving the death of a spouse, and a bloody pig mask, according to the prosecution. Moreover, online Craigslist advertisements for sexual encounters with strangers at the victims’ homes started to appear.

To observe the Steiners, Baugh, Harville, and other others made the trip from California to their house. Prosecutors claim that they intended to implant a GPS tracker on the couple’s car, but when the garage was locked, Harville bought tools to break in.

In this case, five other eBay employees have admitted to conspiring.

U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement that the defendants’ “toxic brand” of online and offline harassment, threats, and stalking “was outrageous, cruel, and defies any explanation” — all the more so because these men were skilled and highly compensated security executives supported by the resources of a Fortune 500 company. “Their actions were abhorrent.”

An eBay spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment. Ina Steiner didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

A spokesperson for Wenig said an independent investigation has shown the former eBay CEO had no knowledge of the harassment campaign. “Devin never told anyone to do anything unethical or illegal and if he had known about it, he would have stopped it,” the spokesperson said.

U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement that the defendants’ “toxic brand” of online and offline harassment, threats, and stalking “was outrageous, cruel, and defies any explanation” — all the more so because these men were skilled and highly compensated security executives supported by the resources of a Fortune 500 company. “Their actions were abhorrent.”