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Feds Charge EBay Over Employees Who Sent Live Spiders And Cockroaches To Couple; Company To Pay $3M

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Boston — According to court documents released Thursday, online retailer eBay Inc. will pay a $3 million fine to settle criminal charges stemming from a harassment campaign undertaken by employees who sent live spiders, cockroaches, and other frightening items to the home of a Massachusetts couple.

More than three years after eBay employees were implicated in the massive plan to intimidate David and Ina Steiner, the Justice Department charged the company with stalking, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice. The couple created an online newsletter called EcommerceBytes, which outraged eBay executives with its content.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, eBay, headquartered in California, has engaged in a deferred prosecution agreement that might result in dismissed accusations against the business, provided certain conditions are met.

“eBay participated in awful criminal behaviour. The company’s employees and contractors involved in this effort subjected the victims to absolute hell, in a terrifying campaign geared at silencing their reports and safeguarding the eBay brand,” acting Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said in an emailed statement.

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Feds Charge EBay Over Employees Who Sent Live Spiders And Cockroaches To Couple; Company To Pay $3M

According to the deferred prosecution agreement, eBay took responsibility for harassing and intimidating employees and hindering the government inquiry. The deal requires an independent monitor to oversee the corporation for three years to ensure it complies with the conditions and federal laws. The $3 million felony fine was the highest possible under the allegations.

On Thursday, the Associated Press emailed eBay asking for a response. An email was also forwarded to a spokeswoman for Devin Wenig, the company’s CEO at the time the employees targeted the Steiners.

The pair, who functioned as the newsletter’s publisher and editor, sued eBay in federal court, claiming that cyberstalking and unexpected deliveries of anonymously supplied gifts upended their lives.

Ina Steiner received harassing and occasionally threatening Twitter messages, as well as dozens of weird emails from organizations such as the irritable bowel syndrome patient support group and the Communist Party of the United States.

In addition to a box of real spiders and cockroaches, the couple received a funeral wreath, a gory pig mask, and a book about surviving the death of a spouse. Their home address and invitations to yard sales and parties were also publicized online.

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Feds Charge EBay Over Employees Who Sent Live Spiders And Cockroaches To Couple; Company To Pay $3M

In a statement posted on their website Thursday, the Steiners stated that eBay’s actions had “a damaging and permanent impact” on them “emotionally, psychologically, physically, reputationally, and financially.” They were also frustrated that more executives had not been charged.

“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,” the lawyers added.

According to court filings, the harassment began in 2019 when Ina Steiner reported on an eBay complaint accusing Amazon of stealing its merchants.

According to court filings, a half-hour after the piece was published, then-CEO Wenig emailed another top executive a message saying: “If you are ever going to take her down… now is the time,” The executive forwarded Wenig’s message to James Baugh, eBay’s senior director of safety and security, and labelled Ina Steiner a “biased troll who needs to get BURNED DOWN.”

Baugh was one of seven former employees who eventually pled guilty to charges in the case. He was convicted in 2022 and sentenced to nearly five years in prison. Another former executive, David Harville, received a two-year term.

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Feds Charge EBay Over Employees Who Sent Live Spiders And Cockroaches To Couple; Company To Pay $3M

Wenig, who resigned as CEO in 2019, was not charged criminally in the case and has denied any knowledge of the harassment campaign or ever advising anyone to do anything illegal. In the civil lawsuit, his lawyers claimed that the “take her down” comment was taken out of context and that the reasonable inference should have been that he was referring to “lawful action,” not “a series of bizarre criminal acts.”

Baugh, whom prosecutors characterized as the scheme’s mastermind, allegedly invited Harville to accompany him to Boston to spy on the Steiners. According to prosecutors, Baugh, Harville, and another eBay employee went to the couple’s house to place a GPS tracker on their car. According to authorities, Harville purchased tools to break into the garage once the trio discovered it was locked.

Harville’s attorneys claim he had no role in or knowledge of his coworkers’ threatening communications or deliveries.

According to Baugh’s attorneys, Wenig and other executives relentlessly pressured their client to take action against the Steelers. Baugh claimed he was subsequently pushed out of the company after “an army of outside lawyers descended to conduct a ‘internal investigation’ aimed at saving the company and its top executives from prosecution.”

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Tesla Cuts The Price Of Its “Full Self Driving” System By A Third To $8,000

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NEW YORK — Tesla reduced the price of its “Full Self Driving” system — which cannot drive itself and requires drivers to remain attentive and ready to intervene — by nearly a third to $8,000 from $12,000, according to the company website.

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Tesla Cuts The Price Of Its “Full Self Driving” System By A Third To $8,000

Tesla CEO and billionaire Elon Musk stated in 2019 that there would be a fleet of robotaxis on the road by 2020, but that promise has yet to be fulfilled, and the system must still be supervised by humans.

The cutbacks, which took effect on Saturday, follow Tesla’s decision to trim $2,000 off the pricing of three of its five models in the United States late Friday. That is the most recent example of the difficulties that the electric vehicle manufacturer is facing.

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Tesla Cuts The Price Of Its “Full Self Driving” System By A Third To $8,000

Tesla dropped the costs of its most popular model, the Model Y, a small SUV that is the best-selling electric vehicle in the United States, as well as the Models X and S, which are older and more expensive. Prices for the Model 3 car and Cybertruck remained unchanged.

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Tesla Cuts The Price Of Its “Full Self Driving” System By A Third To $8,000

The price cut comes a day after Tesla’s stock fell below $150 a share, wiping out all gains recorded in the previous year. The Austin, Texas-based company’s stock price has fallen almost 40% this year due to declining sales and growing competition. Discounted sticker prices are intended to entice more car purchasers.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Body Orders Google To Fix Ad Search Limits Affecting Yahoo

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TOKYO — Japan’s antitrust authority stated Monday that Google, the US search giant, must rectify its advertising search restrictions that impact Yahoo in Japan.

The Japan Fair Trade Commission said in a statement that a recent investigation into Google’s activities revealed that it was hurting fair competition in the advertising sector.

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Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Body Orders Google To Fix Ad Search Limits Affecting Yahoo

Yahoo Japan Corp., which later merged with the Japanese social media platform Line, began offering keyword-targeted search advertising services utilizing Google’s technology after the two businesses forged a partnership in 2010.

The FTC claims that Google imposed limits in its search advertising deal with Yahoo Japan for more than seven years, limiting its ability to compete in focused search ads.

An FTC investigation into whether this violated the Anti-Monopoly Law prompted Google to lift the limitations.

Google said in an emailed statement that it has fully cooperated with the commission’s investigation and that the agency has not determined that it has breached antitrust laws. It committed to follow the commission’s orders and provide “valuable” search services to Japanese consumers and marketers.

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Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Body Orders Google To Fix Ad Search Limits Affecting Yahoo

Line Yahoo declined to comment.

Google will be subject to a three-year review to ensure that necessary improvements are implemented, according to the commission. It did not impose any fines or other penalties on Google, which remains popular in Japan.

The commission’s decision comes after another setback for Google in Japan. Japanese doctors launched a civil case against the corporation last week, seeking damages for what they call baseless, insulting, and frequently inaccurate statements.

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Japan’s Anti-Monopoly Body Orders Google To Fix Ad Search Limits Affecting Yahoo

The Tokyo District Court lawsuit seeks 1.4 million yen ($9,400) in damages for 63 medical professionals who posted ratings on Google Maps.

Google responded by saying it is working “24 hours a day” to remove misleading or incorrect content on its platform, using human and technology resources “to delete fraudulent reviews.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Tesla reduces US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models following a rough week.

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Tesla reduced the pricing of three of its five models in the United States by $2,000 late Friday, highlighting the issues facing the electric vehicle firm run by billionaire Elon Musk.

The business reduced the costs of the Model Y, a small SUV that is Tesla’s most popular model and the best-selling electric vehicle in the United States, as well as the versions X and S, which are older and more expensive versions. Prices for the Model 3 car and Cybertruck remained unchanged.

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Tesla cuts US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models after a difficult week

The reductions dropped the starting price for a Model Y to $42,990, $72,990 for a Model S, and $77,990 for a Model X.

The decision comes a day after Tesla’s shares fell below $150 per share, wiping out all gains earned over the previous year. The Austin, Texas-based company’s stock price has fallen almost 40% this year due to declining sales and growing competition. Discounted sticker prices are intended to entice more car purchasers.

Musk announced early Saturday on X, the social media site that was previously known as Twitter, that the cost of an entry-level Tesla could be as low as $29,490 after accounting for a federal tax credit and gas savings.

Industry observers have been waiting for Tesla to unveil the Model 2, a tiny electric vehicle for approximately $25,000. This month’s media rumors that Musk intended to cancel the project added to uncertainty about the company’s direction, but Musk denied the reports.

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Tesla cuts US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models after a difficult week

The price drops marked the end of a long workweek for Tesla, which said on Monday that it would be laying off 10% of its global workforce, or approximately 14,000 employees. The company also announced the recall of roughly 4,000 of its 2024 Cybertrucks after discovering that the accelerator pedal could become stuck, enabling the vehicle to accelerate accidentally and increasing the danger of a crash.

Musk stated on Saturday that he has postponed a planned weekend travel to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to “very heavy Tesla obligations.” He expressed on X that he was looking forward to rescheduling the visit for later this year.

Tesla is slated to report first-quarter profits on Tuesday.

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Tesla cuts US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models after a difficult week

The business stated earlier this month that its global sales declined substantially from January to March as competition grew, electric car sales growth stagnated, and previous price cuts failed to attract additional buyers.

Tesla’s quarterly sales fell year on year for the first time in nearly four years.

SOURCE – (AP)

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