DOJ rules eBay to pay $3 million in relation to harassment case

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eBay has agreed to pay $3 million in settlement for the 2019 eBay harassment case directed at a Massachusetts couple critical of the e-commerce firm. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced its decision on Thursday, stating that eBay committed six serious crimes. The DOJ charged eBay with two counts of stalking across states, two counts of stalking through online messages, one count of tampering with a witness, and one count of obstructing justice. Notably, seven eBay workers, including some bosses, were part of this disturbing plan.

eBay’s former employees harassed a couple critical of the company

In 2019, these workers sought to harm a couple, Ina and David Steiner, who wrote a newsletter, “EcommerceBytes,” criticizing eBay. They sent mean messages online and watched the couple’s home. Moreover, they also sent creepy items such as a bloody pig mask, a funeral wreath, live bugs, and a book about dealing with the death of a spouse. In 2022, authorities sentenced two former eBay employees to prison, while the remaining five are currently facing charges.

Prosecutors said that top executives at eBay didn’t like the Steiners’ newsletter because it criticized the company. In August 2019, the CEO at the time, Devin Wenig, texted another executive. He said it was time to “take her down,” referring to Ina Steiner.

eBay harassment victims were put through “pure hell”

Acting US Attorney Joshua S. Levy said eBay did terrible things. He mentioned that the workers wanted to scare the Steiners and make eBay look good. “The company’s employees and contractors involved in this campaign put the victims through pure hell, in a petrifying campaign aimed at silencing their reporting and protecting the eBay brand,” he said. This comes at a time when, eBay has also found itself among the apps collecting the most data from users recently.

eBay has acknowledged its wrongdoing and agreed to have an independent monitor oversee its actions for three years in response to the eBay harassment case. Consequently, is also has to make changes to how it follows the rules. If it does this for three years, the charges against it will be dropped.

CEO Jamie Iannone admitted that what his company did in 2019 was “wrong and reprehensible.” He promised that eBay would dedicate itself to adhering to high standards of behavior and ethics. Additionally, the company aims to rectify the situation, as much as possible, with the Steiners.

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