BOSTON – Two former eBay, Inc. employees were convicted today for their role in a cyberstalking campaign targeting the editor and publisher of a newsletter that eBay executives considered critical of with regard to the company.
Stephanie Popp, 34, of Louisville, Kentucky, a former senior director of Global Intelligence at eBay, was sentenced to one year and a day in prison and two years probation. Stephanie Stockwell, 28, of Redwood City, Calif., the former director of eBay’s Global Intelligence Center, was sentenced to two years probation, with one year to be served at home. Both sentences were handed down by Senior U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young
On September 29, 2022, co-conspirator James Baugh was sentenced to 57 months in prison, two years on probation, and ordered to pay a $40,000 fine. Also on September 29, 2022, co-conspirator David Harville was sentenced to two years in prison, two years on probation, and was ordered to pay a $20,000 fine. Co-conspirators and former eBay employees Philip Cooke, Brian Gilbert and Veronica Zea previously pleaded guilty to their role in the conspiracy to stalk the victims on the internet. Cooke was sentenced in July 2021 to 18 months in prison. Gilbert and Zea await sentencing.
Between August 5, 2019 and approximately September 6, 2019, Stockwell, Popp and their co-conspirators at eBay agreed to engage in a harassment campaign targeting a husband and wife in Natick, Mass. for their role in publishing a newsletter that reported on topics of interest to eBay sellers. Senior eBay executives were frustrated with the tone and content of the newsletter as well as the substance of the comments posted below the newsletter articles. The harassment campaign grew out of communications between these senior executives and Baugh, who was eBay’s senior security employee.
In August 2019, the defendants and their co-conspirators executed a three-part harassment campaign designed to intimidate victims and influence their reporting on eBay. The campaign included sending anonymous and disturbing deliveries to victims’ homes; send private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the content of the newsletter; threats to visit the victims in Natick; and travel to Natick to monitor the victims and install a GPS tracking device on their car.
Stockwell, under Baugh’s direction, bought a laptop computer to harass victims and used an anonymous email account to order live spiders online and a prepaid debit card to buy late-night pizza delivery at the victims’ homes. Other deliveries ordered to victims’ homes included a book on surviving the death of a spouse, a bloody pig mask, a fetal pig and a funeral wreath. Stockwell also prepared an eBay “Person of Interest” report for the Bay Area – a fictitious list of potential suspects to provide to the Natick Police Department to prevent police from suspecting that eBay employees were actually harassing victims.
As part of the second phase of the campaign, Popp sent private Twitter messages and public tweets, written or endorsed by Baugh, Gilbert or Cooke, criticizing the content of the newsletter. The threatening Twitter messages were written as if they had been sent by eBay sellers who were unhappy with the coverage of victims in the newsletter. Some of these messages displayed the victims’ home addresses and threatened to show up at their homes. The harassment also included Craigslist posts inviting members of the public to experience sexual encounters at victims’ homes.
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, special agent in charge of the Boston division of the FBI; and Natick Police Chief James G. Hicks made the announcement today. eBay provided valuable assistance and cooperation with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto, deputy head of Rollins’ securities, finance and cyberfraud unit, prosecuted the case.
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