If you’re addicted to online shopping, you’ve probably logged on to eBay a few times. In the world of e-commerce, reputation and trust are a key part of the equation. However, two former eBay security executives seem to have forgotten this maxim.
Jim Baugh and David Harville were sentenced to prison for intimidating and harassing a Massachusetts couple, David and Ina Steiner. But what prompted this situation? Simple: having criticized eBay’s business policies in 2019. The case has sent shockwaves through the industry and also generated an important judicial precedent that could shape the future of online safety.
According to reports from Reuters, Massachusetts couple David and Ina Steiner were the victims of an extensive harassment campaign that involved sending them a funeral wreath and various objects, each one more disturbing than the last.
And that’s because eBay’s top executives felt that the website, EcommerceBytes, was too critical of eBay. So much so that then-CEO Devin Wenig sent a text message to another executive telling him it was time to “take it down,” referring to Ina Steiner.
A short time later, the Steiner’s began receiving anonymous messages via Twitter, rather strange emails and unwanted home deliveries, such as spiders and a book on how to survive the loss of a spouse. And there’s more: the stalkers went so far as to send a pig mask covered in blood from the movie Saw, as well as boxes with live spiders and cockroaches. The stalkers also tried to deliver a fetal pig, but this time without success.
After reporting the facts to the police, an investigation was opened. However, this did not stop the Steiner’s from receiving even more strange packages for three weeks. After all, David noticed that they were being followed by a van and a car. Tracing the van’s license plate led them to Veronica Zea, a former eBay employee. From here, the FBI eventually discovered that the harassment and takedown campaign was perpetrated by eBay employees.
The sentence imposed on Baugh and Harville includes 57 and 24 months in prison, respectively, as well as fines of $40,000 and $20,000. According to David Steiner, “they made our lives hell.”