BOSTON (AP) — Subjected to threats and other bizarre harassment from former eBay Inc. employees, a Massachusetts couple filed a civil suit against the Silicon Valley giant on Wednesday.
David and Ina Steiner said in their lawsuit filed in Boston federal court that the company engaged in a conspiracy to “intimidate, threaten to kill, torture, terrorize, stalk and silence” to “suppress their reporting on eBay” happened.
Natick residents who run Ecommercebytes, an online newsletter focused on the e-commerce industry, say they were subjected to cyberstalking, death threats, bizarre deliveries and personal surveillance by company employees.
They are seeking damages to be paid by the jury.
“This has been an incredibly difficult test for my wife and I,” said David Steiner. “We never thought we would do our job as journalists would take it forward. We want to protect the rights of journalists and their freedom of the press. We have endured immense cruelty and abuse and fear for our lives. If this behavior can happen to us, it can happen to anyone.”
In a statement on Wednesday, eBay apologized to the couple and insisted it cooperated fully with authorities during its investigation.
“The abuse of these former employees was wrong, and we will do what is fair and appropriate to let Steiners go through,” the company said. “The events of 2019 should never have happened, and as eBay expressed to Steiners, we are deeply sorry for them.”
Last year several former eBay employees were indicted for their roles in a harassment campaign. At least five have already been convicted, including a former Santa Clara police captain who worked in security for the company.
In addition to the company and those charged in the criminal complaint, the suit filed Wednesday names defendants Devin Wenig and Steven Weymer, eBay’s chief executive officer and senior vice president, respectively. The complaint states that the two “consistently tracked EcommerceBytes’ reporting, and became increasingly incensed by what they perceived to be negative coverage of Steiners.”
In a text message to security staff James Baugh in August, Weimar reportedly said of the campaign against Steiners: “I want to see the ashes. That’s as long as it takes. Whatever it takes.”
Federal prosecutors have said that the harassment included the anonymous delivery of items such as live spiders, fly larvae, a funeral wreath, a pig embryo and a bloody pig face Halloween mask, and pornographic magazines with the husband’s name sent to their neighbor’s home. Was. .
eBay employees went across the country to the couple’s neighborhood in Natick, where they took out the victims’ home and made plans to break into their garage and install a GPS device on their car.
Andrew Lelling, then-U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said at the time, “It was a determined, systematic attempt by senior employees of a major company to destroy the lives of a couple in Natick because they published material that company executives liked.” Wasn’t.” .