Ex-eBay employee sentenced to 18 months for cyberstalking campaign

The former eBay security supervisor was also a retired police captain

A former security supervisor at eBay will be spending 18 months behind bars for his role in a coordinated cyberstalking campaign with other former employees against a Massachusetts couple who run an e-commerce blog.

Phillip Cooke, also a retired police captain in Santa Clara, Calif., was sentenced Tuesday for what the federal judge called "really abominable" actions by Cooke and several other former eBay employees.

"It's almost unfathomable to me," U.S. District Judge Allison Burroughs said during sentencing, according to Reuters. "I'm not sure if I saw it on television I would find it believable."

Cooke and numerous other former eBay employees pleaded guilty to participating in a harassment campaign against Ina and David Steiner, who were targeted by company higher-ups for publishing unfavorable posts about eBay in their newsletter, EcommerceBytes.

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According to federal prosecutors and a lawsuit filed by the couple last week, a group of eBay employees led by executives began targeting the Steiners in 2019 and went as far as mailing the married publishers live spiders, a Halloween mask of a bloodied pig head and a book titled "Surviving Loss of a Spouse." 

Former eBay CEO David Wenig, who was chief at the time of the harassment and is named as a defendant in the case filed by the Steiners, has not been charged by authorities. He has denied any knowledge of or involvement in the scheme, and made a surprise exit from the company in September 2019.

"The misconduct of these former employees was wrong, and we will do what is fair and appropriate to try to address what the Steiners went through," eBay told FOX Business in a statement responding to an inquiry regarding the lawsuit. "The events from 2019 should never have happened, and as eBay expressed to the Steiners, we are very sorry for what they endured."


Cooke echoed that sentiment, and expressed regret at his sentencing hearing for not stopping what he called "horrific behavior to please the boss."

He told the court, "It's crystal clear this was all wrong from start to finish."