Ex-eBay employees to plead guilty in “bloody pig mask” cyberstalking case

Ex-eBay employees to plead guilty in “bloody pig mask” cyberstalking case

eBay workers allegedly harassed journalists with threats and gruesome deliveries.

Four former eBay employees are expected to plead guilty to charges that they led a cyberstalking campaign against an online newsletter’s editor and publisher. In June, federal officials announced charges and said the harassment campaign “included sending the couple anonymous, threatening messages, disturbing deliveries—including a box of live cockroaches, a funeral wreath, and a bloody pig [Halloween] mask—and conducting covert surveillance of the victims.”

The four people who are scheduled to plead guilty are Stephanie Popp, eBay’s former senior manager of global intelligence; Stephanie Stockwell, former manager of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center (GIC); Veronica Zea, a former eBay contractor who worked as an intelligence analyst in the GIC; and Brian Gilbert, a former senior manager of special operations for eBay’s Global Security Team.

A hearing for a “waiver of indictment and plea to information” is scheduled for October 8, according to an entry in the court docket yesterday. The upcoming guilty pleas were also announced on Twitter by the US Attorney’s office in Massachusetts. The case is in US District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

There were initially six ex-eBay workers charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses, charges that can each be punished with up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and restitution. The two individuals who are not included in the expected guilty pleas are James Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, and David Harville, eBay’s former director of global resiliency. A seventh former employee—Philip Cooke, former supervisor of security operations at eBay’s European and Asian offices—was charged in July.

“Crush this lady”

The alleged victims in the case are David and Ina Steiner of Natick, Massachusetts. They operate EcommerceBytes, as noted in a Wall Street Journal profile of the couple. Last year, an EcommerceBytes article about then-eBay CEO Devin Wenig caught the attention of Wenig and eBay’s then-public-relations chief Steven Wymer, as the Journal recounted:

In April 2019, Ms. Steiner wrote a short article about Mr. Wenig’s compensation, based on a public Securities and Exchange Commission filing, titled “eBay CEO Devin Wenig Earns 152 Times That of Employees.” A commenter posted: “What a foolish Board. What an overpaid empty suit. What a joke.”

According to the affidavit, Mr. Wymer, then eBay’s communications chief, texted Mr. Wenig that they would “crush this lady.”

eBay said in a June 2020 statement that its “internal investigation found that, while Mr. Wenig’s communications were inappropriate, there was no evidence that he knew in advance about or authorized the actions that were later directed toward the blogger and her husband. However, as the company previously announced, there were a number of considerations leading to his departure from the company.”

eBay said it fired “all involved employees,” including Wymer, as a result of its internal investigation, which began after “eBay was notified by law enforcement in August 2019 of suspicious actions by its security personnel toward a blogger, who writes about the company, and her husband.” Wymer is now CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley.

Read the original article over at ArsTechnica.com.