Ina and David Steiner are fighting back after eBay execs allegedly enlisted a harassment and cyber stalking campaign against them in 2019. Live cockroaches and a bloody pig mask, among other obsentities, were sent to their Massachusetts home in an effort to get them to stop reporting about the company.

TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE: eBay execs terrorized bloggers with porn, cockroaches: lawsuit

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A Massachusetts couple is bidding for justice against eBay, alleging that executives at the tech giant unleashed a ruthless harassment and cyberstalking campaign against them that had them fearing for their lives.

Ina and David Steiner, who run an e-commerce trade publication called EcommerceBytes, sued eBay claiming that the online auction house and marketplace besieged them with obscene materials including live cockroaches, pornography and a harrowing manual on surviving the death of a spouse, according to the lawsuit.

The Natick, Massachusetts-based couple claimed in court docs that they were physically stalked by eBay execs in a black van and other vehicles outside their home. Further, the company allegedly attempted to break into their garage to install a GPS tracking device in order to defame the duo and get them to stop reporting on eBay, the lawsuit says.

Ina and David Steiner claim that live cockroaches and a bloody pig mask, among other obscene material, were sent to their Massachusetts home by eBay in an effort to get them to stop reporting on the company.
Boston Globe via Getty Images

The lawsuit, filed in July 2021, alleges that eBay “engaged in a coordinated effort to intimidate, threaten to kill, torture, terrorize, stalk and silence the Steiners, in order to stifle their reporting on eBay.” The couple failed to reach a settlement with eBay and are proceeding with the lawsuit following a private mediation with the company, Rosemary Scapicchio, the Steiners’ lawyer, wrote in a filing in May, as reported by the Boston Globe.

Defendants Devin Wenig, former eBay CEO, and Steven Wymer, former senior vice president and chief communications officer at eBay, reportedly tracked coverage from EcommerceBytes and became “increasingly enraged by what they perceived as the Steiners’ negative coverage of eBay and the upper echelons of the corporation,” the lawsuit claims.

The duo allegedly sent a directive to at least seven of its security staffers aimed at terminating the Steiners’ reporting on eBay, according to the suit.

Devin Wenig, former eBay CEO.
Devin Wenig, the former CEO of eBay, and other higher-ups at the company allegedly tracked coverage of them by EcommerceBytes and became “increasingly enraged by what they perceived as the Steiners’ negative coverage of eBay and the upper echelons of the corporation,” the lawsuit claims. Wenig stepped down as CEO in September 2019.
Gian Ehrenzeller/EPA/Shutterstoc

“Whatever it takes,” Wymer allegedly communicated to the security staffers, according to the suit, which also stated, “We need to STOP her.”

More than two decades ago, the Steiners started the news site EcommerceBytes, a forum for online sellers to sound off criticisms about tech giants like eBay, Amazon and Etsy with stories such as “EBay CEO Devin Wenig Earns 152 Times that of Employees,” among other items.

But in 2019, things got dark after a series of harrowing events allegedly unfolded at the hands of eBay’s security team. It all began with an “online intimidation campaign,” the lawsuit claims, when the defendants taunted Ina Steiner with a Twitter handle pretending to be an eBay seller, threatening her to stop reporting on the auction giant. The suit says the online threats continued, and the couple allegedly received disturbing packages that included live cockroaches, spiders, a Halloween mask of a bloody pig and a book titled “Grief Diaries: Surviving Loss of a Spouse” sent to David Steiner.

The deliveries were accompanied by vulgar messages on Twitter such as, “Do I have your attention now, c—-?” the lawsuit claims. Other deliveries, including pornography and “Hustler: Barely Legal” magazines were sent to the Steiners’ neighbors’ home in David’s name, the suit says, in an effort to defame his image. What’s more, the couple was allegedly also the target of a Craigslist post falsely advertising they were seeking sex partners for bondage and sadism, among other claims.

eBay's headquarters.
A photo of eBay’s headquarters.
Shutterstock / JHVEPhoto

Seven former eBay employees have pleaded guilty and the Steiners are suing Wenig, as well as some others, claiming the brutal ambush against them was not spurred by employees — but more as a result of the company’s policy, the New York Times reported.

On Sept. 29, two former eBay execs, David Harville, eBay’s former director of global resiliency, and Jim Baugh, eBay’s former senior director of safety and security, both of who admitted to taking part in the cyberstalking campaign, will be sentenced, per the ruling of a Massachusetts judge as reported by Law360.

EBay, Wenig and Wymer were not charged in the criminal case, and the civil case has been put on pause while eBay discusses a potential settlement with the Steiners, according to Law360.

EBay said in a statement at the time: “The events from 2019 should never have happened,” according to the New York Times, adding they are “working to do what is fair and appropriate to address what the Seiners went through.” 

The Post reached out for comment from eBay and a lawyer representing the Steiners, but did not immediately hear back.

Wenig resigned from eBay in September 2019. In court papers, he denied writing messages to staffers directing them to carry out attempts at a take-down, and is requesting the case be dismissed, according to the Times. Wenig, in 2020, said he had “no knowledge, no private understanding, no tacit approval” of the harassment campaign, in a statement to Recode as reported by Vox. Another issue: Wenig left eBay “without cause,” meaning he was entitled to a $40 million exit package, according to the Times.

Meanwhile, eBay fired Wymer “for cause” according to legal papers obtained by the Times, which noted eBay did not publicly acknowledge it at the time. The company said Wymer was axed for “inappropriate communications” amid the scandal. Wymer denied wrongdoing, issuing a statement to Recode saying: “I would never condone or participate in any such activity.”



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