eBay agrees to $3 million fine after employees sent cockroaches to couple in harassment scheme

A Massachusetts couple received various disturbing items in the mail from eBay employees.

EBay has agreed to pay a $3 million fine to settle criminal charges over employees who sent spiders, cockroaches and other items to a Massachusetts couple. 

The Massachusetts couple, David and Ina Steiner, had produced an online newsletter called Ecommerce Bytes, which had upset eBay executives. 


The big picture: EBay was charged with stalking, witness tampering and obstruction of justice over three years after the employees were prosecuted. 

  • According to the U.S. attorney’s office in Massachusetts, eBay has accepted responsibility for the harassment scheme and could have its charges dismissed if it complies with certain conditions. 
  • An independent monitor will oversee eBay for three years as part of the settlement. 

The backstory: The harassment began after the couple published a story about a lawsuit between eBay and Amazon. 

  • They sued eBay and said that they had received threatening Twitter messages and strange emails from groups like the Communist Party of the United States. 
  • They also had received a funeral wreath, a bloody pig mask and a book about surviving the loss of a spouse. 

What they’re saying: The Steiners posted a statement on their website on Thursday saying eBay damaged them emotionally, psychologically, physically, reputationally and financially. 

  • “We strongly pushed federal prosecutors for further indictments to deter corporate executives and board members from creating a culture where stalking and harassment is tolerated or encouraged,” they wrote.
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