Prison for ex-eBay staff who aggressively cyberstalked company’s critics with Craigslist sex party ads and funeral wreaths

Graham Cluley
Graham Cluley
@[email protected]

Prison for ex-eBay staff who aggressively cyberstalked company's critics with Craigslist sex party ads and funeral wreaths

Two men, who previously worked at eBay, have been sentenced to prison after admitting their role in a cyberstalking campaign that targeted the editor and publisher of a newsletter that criticised the company.

47-year-old James Baugh of San Jose and David Harville of Las Vegas, along with other co-conspirators at eBay, launched a harassment campaign against Ina and David Steiner, a husband-and-wife team who produced the EcommerceBytes website and newsletter.

Baugh, who at the time was eBay’s senior director of safety and security. and 50-year-old Harville, who was the company’s director of global resiliency, had engaged in an intimidation campaign against the Steiners.

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The couple behind EcommerceBytes had seemingly raised the ire of Baugh, Harville, and others within eBay, because they would frequently publish articles scrutinising the behaviour of the ecommerce giant.

In August 2019, things came to a head after the newsletter published an article about litigation involving eBay, and two members of eBay’s executive leadership team sent messages saying it was time to “take down” the editor of EcommerceBytes.

The harassment campaign launched by the group of eBay employees included:

  • sending anonymous, threatening messages
  • delivering a funeral wreath, a mask of a bloody pig’s face, live insects, and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse
  • sending pornography addressed to the Steiners, but delivered to their neighbours
  • posting adverts for sex parties at the couple’s home on Craigslist
  • travelling across the country to spy on the Steiners, and attempting to plant a GPS tracker on their car

Fearing for their lives, the Steiners installed surveillance cameras to monitor anyone approaching their home.

When police began to investigate, Baugh is said to have called a meeting with his co-conspirators where they plotted to destroy evidence of their involvement and draw attention away from eBay. According to the Steiners, a fake dossier was created, containing fabricated evidence and a phony “persons of interest” file.

Ultimately former eBay employees Philip Cooke, Brian Gilbert, Stephanie Popp, Veronica Zea, and Stephanie Stockwell pleaded guilty for their part in the cyberstalking plot. Baugh and Harville initially denied the allegations against them, before pleading guilty earlier this year.

Cooke was sentenced to 18 months in prison back in July 2001.

At the time of writing Gilbert, Popp, Zea, and Stockwell are still awaiting sentencing.

But now James Baugh has been sent to prison for 57 months, followed by two years of supervised release. His co-conspirator David Harville has been jailed for two years with two years of supervised release. Harville has additionally been ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.

For more discussion of this topic, listen to this episode of the “Smashing Security” podcast.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

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