Philip Cooke, 55, oversaw eBay’s security operations in Europe and Asia and was a former police captain in Santa Clara, California. He pleaded guilty this week to conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
Cooke, based in San Jose, was just one of seven employees, including one manager, accused of targeting a married couple living on the other side of the United States, in Massachusetts, because they didn’t like their criticisms of eBay in the newsletter.
It’s said the team would post aggressive anonymous comments on the couple’s newsletter website, and at some point planned a concerted campaign against the pair including cyberstalking and harassment. Among other things, prosecutors noted, “several of the defendants ordered anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home, including a preserved fetal pig, a bloody pig Halloween mask and a book on surviving the loss of a spouse.”
But it was when the couple noticed they were under surveillance in their own home they finally went to the cops in Natick, where they lived, and officers opened an investigation.
It was Cooke’s behavior at that point that led to the subsequent charge of conspiracy to tamper with a witness: he formulated a plan to give the Natick police a false lead in an effort to prevent them from discovering proof that his team had sent the pig’s head and other items. The eBay employees also deleted digital evidence that showed their involvement, prosecutors said, obstructing an investigation and breaking another law.