Massachusetts couple who ran a news website that criticized eBay share how the staff then terrorized them
A couple has details of a “depraved” campaign of harassment they endured at the hands of eBay staff after criticizing the web giant on its e-commerce news site.
David and Ina Steiner received live cockroaches, a book on surviving the loss of a husband, a funeral wreath and a mask from the movie Saw that the killer wears before kidnapping, torturing and killing his victims.
David also recalled getting a disturbing call from an Arizona store saying they couldn’t deliver the “wet one” they ordered.
‘No idea what a wet one was, I asked her. It was an embalmed pig fetus,” the shocked stalking victim said Good morning America.
David and Ina Steiner of Natick, Massachusetts, were victims of an intimidation campaign by eBay employees
The neighbors even received pornography addressed to David in an effort to maximally embarrass the couple.
“Who could come up with these twisty packages? And the depravity—the messages, if you read the language—I wouldn’t have thought it was a business in a million years,’ Ina said.
The bullying began in June 2019 when a neighbor walking his dog pointed out that the Steiners’ fence was covered in graffiti.
The harassment began in June 2019 with smaller “jokes” — such as when the pair were sent live cockroaches — but it quickly escalated into a three-part attack that would leave the Steiners in fear for their lives.
The couple was sent a mask from the movie Saw that the killer wears before kidnapping, torturing and killing his victims
The couple was sent a book about surviving the loss of a husband
David and Ina also received a funeral wreath, which made them fear for their lives
The harassment stemmed from vandalism and unwanted, “really disturbing” email subscriptions to eBay employees trying to put a tracking system on the car. The neighbors even received pornography addressed to David
It soon grew out of the vandalism and unwanted, “really disturbing” email subscriptions from eBay employees trying to place a tracking device on the car.
Prosecutors suspected the campaign was to prevent the Steiners from continuing with EcommerceBytes, a site devoted to ecommerce news that David and Ina have been running from their home for the past 22 years.
Prosecutors suspected the campaign was to prevent the Steiners from continuing with EcommerceBytes, a site devoted to ecommerce news that David and Ina have been running from their home for 22 years.
The site had been critical of eBay and its policies in the course of reporting, which the Steiners said were fair and honest.
The Steiners first called the police after sensing that a suspicious vehicle was following them and were told it was a prank.
Co-conspirator Philip Cooke, 55, was a police captain in Santa Clara, California before becoming supervisor of security operations for eBay. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, one year of house arrest and two years of supervised release for his role in the cyberstalking. He was also ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service
After the Steiners shared the photo of the car, police were able to track the license plate of a rental car that had been checked out of a Veronica Zea.
Zea, 26, was staying at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Boston with a man named David Harville, 48, and the pair worked for eBay more than 3,000 miles away in San Jose, California.
The Steiners and their lawyer soon learned that this was not a joke, but a “systematic campaign to emotionally and psychologically torture the couple to stifle their eBay reporting.”
Six eBay employees were accused of cyberstalking. The company has not commented.
Chiefs Harville, eBay’s former Director of Global Resiliency, and 45-year-old James Baugh, eBay’s former Senior Director of Safety and Security, were arrested on June 15, 2020, on charges of conspiracy to commit stalking, interstate travel stalking, witness sabotage and destruction.
The co-conspirators were Philip Cooke, 55, a former security operations supervisor; Brian Gilbert, 52, former Senior Manager Special Operations for eBay’s Global Security Team; Stephanie Popp, 32, former Senior Manager Global Intelligence at eBay; Stephanie Stockwell, 26, the former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center; and Zea, a former eBay contractor.
It’s unclear why the posse took it upon himself to attack the Steiners so viciously.
Cooke was sentenced to 18 months in prison, one year of house arrest and two years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay a $15,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.
He later asked for leniency at the sentencing for having an alcohol problem attributed to eBay’s “drinking culture,” where a campus bar opened at 3 p.m. and a morning shot was common.
Gilbert, Popp, Stockwell and Zea will plead guilty in October 2020 and are expected to be sentenced in September.
The maximum penalty for each charge was up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution.
eBay has not commented on the matter, other than cooperating fully with criminal investigators.