Seven eBay employees conspired to cyberstalk a Massachusetts couple for publishing a newsletter that criticized the online auction company.
Among them was Phillip Cooke, a former police captain in Santa Clara and the head of security for eBay’s European and Asian officers.
The fact that Cooke was in law enforcement makes the bizarre harassment campaign he carried out against the couple even more incredible. The couple published a newsletter that specialized in covering ecommerce sites. Apparently, many eBay executives didn’t care for some of the things written in the newsletter about the company.
Instead of hitting the unsubscribe button or posting critical comments, these seven eBay employees executed a three-part campaign against the newsletter publishers. Several of the defendants ordered anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home, including a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse.
They also sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content and threatening to visit the victims at home.
The group had a plan for the messages to become increasingly disturbing, culminating with publishing their home address online. The plan was for to then approach the victims with an offer to help stop the harassment. The idea was that the couple would feel grateful to eBay for helping them.
Followed Victims At Home
The conspirators also followed the victims. The victims spotted the surveillance and notified police. Incredibly, a police investigation didn’t slow these schemers down. They conspired to supply the police with false leads in the investigation.
Cooke pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. David Harville, 48, of New York City and James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, Calif., were charged on June 15, 2020, with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. Stephanie Popp, 32, and Veronica Zea, 26, both of San Jose, Calif., pleaded guilty on Oct. 8, 2020. Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood City, Calif., and Brian Gilbert, 51, of San Jose, Calif., are scheduled to plead guilty on Oct. 29, 2020.