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eBay forced to pay $3 million after employees sent live spiders and cockroaches to couple
Featured Image Credit: Youtube/ 60 Minutes/ YThiago Prudencio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

eBay forced to pay $3 million after employees sent live spiders and cockroaches to couple

The online company had to pay $3 million after a couple were the targets of an 'online intimidation campaign' by employees

eBay has been ordered to pay out $3 million to a couple following a 'campaign' of online harassment from its employees.

David and Ina Steiner from Massachusetts had a number of items sent to their home, including live spiders and cockroaches.

The online retailer has agreed to pay out $3 million after criminal charges were brought against seven of its employees over the harassment.

Felony convictions have already been handed down against the seven, with the ringleader receiving the longest sentence of 57 months in federal prison, according to the Justice Department.

Things started in 2019 with an 'online intimidation campaign' when the Steiners were the targets of taunting from an account on Twitter which was posing as a seller on eBay.

The pair run their own ecommerce company called EcommerceBytes.

A lawsuit filed against eBay in 2021 details how they were threatened to cease reporting on the company.

According to court records the campaign began after an article by Ina which detailed a lawsuit brought by eBay against Amazon over stealing their clients.

David and Ina Steiner were harassed by eBay.
Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Court documents include a message sent by eBay's CEO at the time Devin Wenig to another executive at the company which said: “If you are ever going to take her down... now is the time."

The couple described how they began receiving threatening and unpleasant packages at their home, including live insects and spiders.

Another package contained a book entitled Grief Diaries: Surviving Loss of a Spouse.

They were also sent a fetal pig, a pig Halloween mask and a funeral wreath.

On Thursday the Department of Justice ruled that eBay had played a part in the harassment.

Acting Massachusetts US Attorney Joshua S. Levy said: “eBay engaged in absolutely horrific, criminal conduct.

“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.”

The pair ran an ecommerce website called EcommerceBytes.
Pat Greenhouse/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

In a blog post on EcommerceBytes after the ruling, the Steiners wrote: “After today’s announcement, we remain determined to push for answers and do whatever we possibly can to ensure that no corporation ever feels that the option exists for them to squash a person’s First Amendment rights.”

In a statement on its website, eBay CEO Jamie Iannone said: “The company’s conduct in 2019 was wrong and reprehensible.

"We continue to extend our deepest apologies to the Steiners for what they endured.

"Since these events occurred, new leaders have joined the company and eBay has strengthened its policies, procedures, controls and training.”

UNILAD has contacted eBay for a comment.

Topics: News, US News, Business, Money