February 23, 2024

eBay Faces $3 Million Fine Over Harassment Campaign

Online retail giant eBay has been slapped with a hefty $3 million fine as it agrees to settle criminal charges associated with a disturbing harassment campaign against David and Ina Steiner, publishers of the online newsletter EcommerceBytes.

The ominous campaign started after eBay executives were upset with their newsletter.

It was back in 2019 that this harassment took place when the publishers covered a story involving eBay suing Amazon for poaching its sellers.

A series of unsettling incidents followed as eBay delivered cockroaches, live spiders, a bloody pig mask, a funeral wreath, and even a book about surviving the loss of a spouse to their home.

The online retailer has been charged with stalking the couple and various other offenses by the Department of Justice. Their sinister plot drew the wrath of the law three years after they carried out this campaign.

Devin Wenig, eBay CEO Involved In The Harassment

What makes this case more disturbing is the alleged involvement of then eBay CEO, Devin Wenig.

While resigning from the post of eBay’s CEO, Wenig stated that he knew nothing of instructing illegal activities or any sort of harassment.

Within half an hour of the article being published, Wenig reportedly instructed another executive over a message, which stated, “If you are ever going to take her down… now is the time”.

Then, the information was shared with the senior director of safety and security of eBay, James Baugh. He referred to Mrs. Steiner as a “biased troll who needs to get BURNED DOWN”.

Baugh, considered the mastermind of the harassment scheme, was among seven former employees who pleaded guilty to charges.

While he was sentenced to about five years in prison in 2022, a two-year sentence was given to David Harville, another executive involved in the case.

Wenig Justifies His “Take Her Down” Quote

Along with Harville and Baugh, another employee of the online retailer went to the home of the couple to install their car with a GPS tracker. Since the garage was locked, they planned to break in as Harville brought the necessary tools.

According to Wenig’s defense in the civil case, the “take her down” wasn’t presented in the right context and it implied lawful action rather than criminal activities.

Harville, who accompanied Baugh on a trip to spy on the Steiners claimed no knowledge or involvement of the threats. Wenig, along with other executives at eBay, continually pressurized Baugh, and he complained about being ousted by the company while the internal investigation was going on to protect key executives from being punished.

With the legal agreement taking shape, eBay faces the heat, and the wrong-doings of its employees and higher authorities come to the spotlight.

The bizarre incident also justifies the importance of vigilance while monitoring the workplace culture and activities of employees. The ordeal of the Steiners, on the other hand, stands out as an instance of corporate mismanagement and irresponsibility.

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