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EBay Fined $3M Over Cyberstalking Campaign Targeting Massachusetts Couple

ebay-fined-3m-over-cyberstalking-campaign-targeting-massachusetts-couple

eBay has agreed to pay a $3 million fine in connection with a corporate cyberstalking campaign targeting a Massachusetts couple in 2019. The cyberstalking campaign was conducted by several eBay employees, some of whom were executives, who targeted the couple after they posted a newsletter that was critical of the e-commerce giant.

Key Takeaway

eBay has agreed to pay a $3 million fine in connection with a corporate cyberstalking campaign targeting a Massachusetts couple in 2019. The cyberstalking campaign involved several eBay employees, some of whom were executives, who targeted the couple after they posted a critical newsletter about the e-commerce giant.

The Cyberstalking Campaign

  • Bloody pig mask, fetal pig, funeral wreath, live insects, and a book on surviving the death of a spouse were sent to the couple
  • Employees visited the couple’s home and installed a GPS tracking device on their car
  • Created ads on Craigslist inviting the public for sexual encounters at the victims’ home
  • Sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content

The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts announced the fine on Thursday and revealed that the company committed six felonies. eBay was charged 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 Guilty Parties

eBay admitted that Jim Baugh, eBay’s former Senior Director of Safety and Security, and six other members of the company’s security team targeted the couple after they published a critical newsletter. Baugh and the other employees then executed a harassment campaign with the intent of intimidating the victims into changing the content of the newsletter.

Legal Ramifications

Baugh was sentenced to 57 months in prison in September 2022, while the other six employees were sentenced to varying punishments, ranging from two years in prison to home confinement. eBay is also required to retain an independent corporate compliance monitor for three years and to make extensive enhancements to its compliance program.

eBay’s Response

eBay said in a press release today that it takes responsibility for the misconduct of the former employees. eBay CEO Jamie Iannone stated, “The company’s conduct in 2019 was wrong and reprehensible. From the moment eBay first learned of the 2019 events, eBay cooperated fully and extensively with law enforcement authorities. We continue to extend our deepest apologies to the Steiners for what they endured. Since these events occurred, new leaders have joined the company and eBay has strengthened its policies, procedures, controls, and training.”

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