Cyberstalking: Former eBay security manager Philip Cooke was sentenced to 18 months in prison for his role in an intense harassment campaign against two eBay critics. This Tuesday (27), a Massachusetts judge ruled after the defendant pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit cyberstalking.
Cooke, a former police officer, admitted attending a 2019 meeting where eBay officials planned a Twitter harassment campaign against Ina and David Steiner and their publication EcommerceBytes. He is the first of seven former eBay employees to be convicted after the Department of Justice revealed the scheme last year.
In addition to his prison sentence, Cooke will face three years of probation, 100 hours of community work and a $15,000 fine, as requested by federal prosecutors. Four other conspirators also pleaded guilty last year, and the Steiners filed a civil suit against the group.
understand the case
The Steiners maintained an online newsletter that covered e-commerce companies, including eBay. Senior members of the company followed the publications and often questioned their content with anonymous comments.
In August 2019, a group of employees decided to go further and started a harassment campaign against the couple. Among the actions, they reportedly made anonymous deliveries to the home of victims of a pig fetus, a bloody pig Halloween mask and a book on how to survive the loss of a spouse.
The defendants were also accused of sending private Twitter messages and public tweets criticizing the newsletter’s content, as well as threatening to visit the victims. The indictment claims that the defendants planned for the messages to become increasingly disturbing, culminating in the publication of the Steiners’ home address. The harassment would also have involved surveillance of victims in their homes and community.
The defendants are also accused of trying to interfere in the police investigation. The group reportedly discussed the possibility of presenting a false trail to prevent police from discovering video evidence that could link some of the deliveries to eBay employees.