eBay to pay $3 million after employees sent foetal pig to bloggers

World News

eBay will pay a $3 million criminal penalty for a 2019 cyberstalking campaign orchestrated by multiple employees against two bloggers who were critical of the site, according to the Justice Department, one that resulted in the bloggers, who are a couple, being sent a bloody pig mask, live insects, a fetal pig and a book on surviving the death of a spouse.
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A sign is posted in front of the eBay headquarters on January 22, 2014 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Key Takeaways
  • eBay, which entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, was criminally charged with two counts of stalking through interstate travel, two counts of stalking through electronic communications services, one count of witness tampering and one count of obstruction of justice, though the company will not be prosecuted on the counts under the agreement.
  • The Justice Department, citing admissions made by eBay, reported that the employees traveled to the couple’s home to surveil them and install a GPS tracker on their car in addition to sending them the disturbing items, which also included a funeral wreath.
  • Private and public Twitter messages were also sent to the couple criticizing their newsletter’s content and threatening to visit their home in Natick, Massachusetts.
  • The seven employees who orchestrated the harassment campaign, many of whom held director and senior management positions on the company’s security, intelligence and global resiliency teams, received different sentences in 2021 and 2022 that ranged from multi-year prison stints to home confinement, though Brian Gilbert, the former senior manager of security operations at the company, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty.
  • eBay CEO Jamie Iannone said in a statement Thursday that the company’s conduct in 2019 was “wrong and reprehensible,” extending the company’s apologies to the targeted couple.
  • eBay will also be subject to an independent corporate compliance monitor who will be able to make changes to the company’s compliance program for three years.

eBay’s stock closed down more than 1% Thursday at $41.87. Shares of the stock have trended downward in the last year after peaking at $51.66 in February.

Key Background

eBay was also in the Justice Department’s crosshairs in September, when the department filed a civil suit against it for allegedly selling devices that bypassed emissions controls built into motor vehicles. The ecommerce platform was specifically accused of selling more than 343,000 units of the devices—each sale of which could mean a fine of up to $5,580 under the Clean Air Act, according to NBC News, putting the company on the hook for as much as $2 billion. eBay denied the charges in a statement and said it has blocked “more than 99.9% the listings for the products cited by the DOJ, including millions of listings each year.”

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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