Several former eBay employees have been accused of cyberstalking and harassing a couple for criticizing the online retailer via their news website, CNN reported on Monday. The employees allegedly sent the Massachusetts couple live bugs such as cockroaches, spiders, and fly larvae. They also supposedly mailed them a bloody pig mask.
Court documents further alleged that the employees tried to break into the couple's garage at one point to install a GPS tracker on their car and that they were watching the pair's home.
According to U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling, the couple may have been targeted by a Fortune 500 company.
"We've never seen a company that did something like this before. It could be that it speaks to a culture in Silicon Valley of dealing aggressively with a brand," said Lelling during a press conference.While the couple's names have been kept confidential, the six employees' identities have been released. Among the accused were two former eBay directors, James Baugh and David Harville, along with a reported former California police captain named Brian Gilbert.
The other suspects named in the article were Stephanie Stockwell, Veronica Zea, and Stephanie Popp.
Baugh and Harville, who were eBay's Senior Director of Safety and Security, and Director of Global Resiliency, respectively, have been arrested. The other defendants are not yet in custody, although they have been charged.
"All six defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses," reported CNN.
Based on information presented by the CNN article, it seemed that Baugh and Harville were the masterminds of the operation and that they encouraged the other employees to target the couple after becoming unhappy with the content on their site.
The couple's website focused on e-commerce and frequently mentioned big companies like eBay and Amazon. Some posts were supposedly critical of eBay, although the article does not go into detail about what was said.
Baugh reportedly wanted the couple to become very uncomfortable and distracted, so they would "stop writing negative articles about eBay."
The prosecutors have stated that the defendants wanted "to harass the couple anonymously, and then have eBay representatives offer to help the couple, 'creating good will toward eBay.'"
eBay released an official statement about the incident on Monday. The company stated that they had first been notified of potential criminal activity back in August 2019. They conducted an investigation and fired all individuals believed to be involved.
"eBay does not tolerate this kind of behavior. eBay apologizes to the affected individuals and is sorry that they were subjected to this," read the statement.
The statement also assured that eBay resolved to ensure its employees were held to "high standards of conduct and ethics," and would take necessary measures to "ensure these standards are followed."