eBay Former Global Security Teams Cyberstalking Case Continues
Former eBay Employee Charged in Aggressive Cyberstalking Campaign
– A seventh former employee of eBay, Inc. has been charged with
participating in a cyberstalking campaign targeting a Natick, Mass. couple who
published a newsletter that eBay executives viewed as critical of the company.
Philip Cooke, 55, of San Jose, Calif., a former police captain in Santa Clara,
Calif., and a supervisor of security operations at eBay’s European and Asian
offices, was charged by Information with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking
and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. Cooke will appear in federal court in
Boston at a later date.
to charging documents, Cooke conspired with six other former eBay employees:
David Harville, 48, of New York City; James Baugh, 45, of San Jose, Calif.;
Stephanie Popp, 32, of San Jose, Calif.; Stephanie Stockwell, 26, of Redwood
City, Calif.; Veronica Zea, 26, of San Jose, Calif.; and Brian Gilbert, 51, of
San Jose, Calif. Harville and Baugh were charged on June 15, 2020, with
conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses. The
charging documents identified Cooke as “Supervisor 1.” A previously filed
Information charging Gilbert, Popp, Stockwell, and Zea with the same offenses
was also unsealed on June 15, 2020.
According to the charging documents, the victims of the cyberstalking campaign
were a Natick couple who are the editor and publisher of an online newsletter
that covers ecommerce companies, including eBay. Members of eBay’s executive
leadership team followed the newsletter’s posts, often taking issue with its
content and the anonymous comments underneath the editor’s stories.
It is alleged that in August 2019, the defendants allegedly executed a
three-part harassment campaign. Among other things, several of the defendants
ordered anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home, including a
preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath, a book on
surviving the loss of a spouse, and pornography – the last of these addressed to
the newsletter’s publisher but sent to his neighbors’ homes.
As part of the second phase of the campaign, some of the defendants allegedly
sent private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s
content and threatening to visit the victims in Natick. The charging documents
allege that Cooke, Baugh, Gilbert, and Popp planned these messages to become
increasingly disturbing, culminating with “doxing” the victims (i.e., publishing
their home address). It is alleged that the same group intended then to have
Gilbert, a former Santa Clara police captain, approach the victims with an offer
to help stop the harassment that the defendants were secretly causing, in an
effort to promote good will towards eBay, generate more favorable coverage in
the newsletter, and identify the individuals behind the anonymous comments.
The third phase of the campaign allegedly involved covertly surveilling the
victims in their home and community. The victims spotted the surveillance,
however, and notified the Natick police, who began to investigate.
Aware that the police were investigating, the defendants allegedly sought to
interfere with the investigation by lying to the police about eBay’s involvement
while pretending to offer the company’s assistance with the harassment, as well
as by lying to eBay’s lawyers about their involvement. For example, it is
alleged that Cooke and several of the other defendants discussed the possibility
of presenting Natick Police with a false investigative lead to keep the police
from discovering video evidence that could link some of the deliveries to eBay
employees. As the police and eBay’s lawyers continued to investigate, the
defendants allegedly deleted digital evidence that showed their involvement,
further obstructing what had by then become a federal investigation.
The charges of conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with
witnesses each carry a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of
supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and restitution. Sentences are
imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing
Guidelines and other statutory factors.
United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent
in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and
Natick Chief of Police James G. Hicks made the announcement today. Assistant
U.S. Attorneys Seth B. Kosto and David J. D’Addio of Lelling’s Securities,
Financial and Cyber Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.
The details contained in charging documents are allegations. The defendants are
presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a
court of law.
See the Daily’s full coverage of the eBay cyberstalking case with earlier