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eBay Agrees to $3 Million Fine for Harassment Campaign

In August 2019, eBay's former senior director of Safety and Security, Jim Baugh, and six other team members targeted Ina and David Steiner. The Steiners wrote EcommerceBytes, a trade publication reporting on e-commerce companies. EcommerceBytes frustrated Baugh and his staff with its eBay mentions. After they wrote about eBay's lawsuit against Amazon, some eBay executives initiated an intimidation campaign to pressure the Steiners to change the newsletter's tone. They created Twitter accounts under false names to send the Steiners threatening private DMs, posted the Steiners' home address publicly, encouraged strangers to visit the home for sexual encounters and other activities, and installed a GPS device on the Steiners' car. eBay employees sent live spiders and cockroaches, a funeral wreath, a fetal pig, and a book about surviving the loss of a spouse to the Steiner home. 

The Steiners filed a civil lawsuit against eBay for these acts. The Justice Department charged eBay with stalking, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice after seven employees and contractors were convicted of felony charges for their roles in the intimidation campaign. eBay has accepted responsibility for its employees' actions and agreed to hire an independent monitor to oversee the company for the next three years, along with the $3 million fine. The Justice Department said, “eBay engaged in absolutely horrific, criminal conduct. The company’s employees and contractors involved . . . put the victims through pure hell, in a petrifying campaign aimed at silencing their reporting and protecting the eBay brand.”

Current eBay CEO Jaime Iannone extended his apologies to the Steiners and noted the new leadership and policies in place.