Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

EBay user admits to threatening executives

A Romanian native who became disgruntled with eBay Inc.'s business practices pleaded guilty Tuesday to threatening senior executives, including the billionaires who founded and manage one of the world's largest e-commerce companies.

Florin Horicianu, 37, a naturalized U.S. citizen who tried to recruit thousands of Romanians to become eBay buyers and sellers, sobbed and wiped his eyes as U.S. District Judge James Ware told him that he faced up to five years in prison and at least $250,000 in fines.

Horicianu, who will be sentenced in September, sent executives numerous e-mails in 2003 and 2004 in which he contemplated suicide and made other threatening remarks because of a business dispute with eBay. Among the executives who received his e-mails were Silicon Valley e-commerce pioneer and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and ebay Chief Executive Meg Whitman.

"I will haunt and hurt you and your family," said one e-mail.

EBay representatives declined to comment on the case.

But in documents filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, the company portrayed Horicianu as a mentally disturbed man who created phony accounts from fake sellers throughout Romania to inflate his recruitment ranks.

According to court files, Horicianu demanded eBay pay him $800,000 and sent an e-mail to one eBay executive demanding payment or else he would continue "hunting you and your family."

Although he admitted after his court appearance Tuesday that his e-mails to executives were a "mistake," Horicianu said eBay's security investigators misinterpreted their meaning. Also, he said, the company erred when it informed him in a computer-generated e-mail response that he could no longer recruit members.

As part of his plea, Horicianu waived any right to appeal.

Horicianu, a computer programmer and mechanical engineer who has lived in New York City for 10 years, said he spent thousands of dollars to travel to Romania, where he set up classes for local consumers and taught them how to surf the Internet, pay electronically and bid for items on the popular online auction site.

He said eBay, which pays members up to $45 per new recruit as part of its "Affiliate Program," owed him at least $7,200 for his recruitment efforts. But the company refused to pay, he said, after customer service representatives became suspicious about the high volume of new accounts being opened from obscure Internet cafes throughout Romania's cities and countryside.

For years, eBay executives have acknowledged that a disproportionate percentage of fraudulent transactions are committed from sellers and buyers in eastern Europe, particularly Romania. EBay's fraud detection software alerts the company's security personnel to all suspicious accounts -- including, for instance, a new seller in Romania peddling expensive electronics such as computers and plasma televisions.

But Horicianu said eBay's clampdown on his entrepreneurial efforts was discriminatory -- and bad for business. Relatively few consumers own personal computers in Romania, one of Europe's poorest countries, so locals often have to share computers or log into e-commerce sites from public desktops at Internet cafes.

"They dismissed my work based on an unfair explanation -- then they just sent a cut-and-paste response," Horicianu said after his court appearance. "They didn't care about my efforts and that I spent a lot of money. I believed I could trust eBay and Meg Whitman, but I couldn't."

By RACHEL KONRAD
AP Business Writer

More in Tux Machines

Software: LibreELEC 8.0.1 (Kodi), MKVToolnix 10.0.0, Claws Mail 3.15)

  • LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.0.1 MR
    LibreELEC (Krypton) v8.0.1 MR is available bringing Kodi v17.1, hardware support for the Raspberry Pi Zero W, improved software HEVC decoding on RPi3/CM3 hardware, driver support for Fe Pi audio cards, and support for Cirrus Logic DAC audio cards (thanks to @HiassofT). The bump to Kodi v17.1 resolves several upgrade and user-experience issues we have seen with the initial Kodi v17.0 release, and happiness is enhanced for users wearing an official LibreELEC tee-shirt or hoodie.
  • LibreELEC 8.0.1 Is Out Based on Kodi 17.1, Adds Support for Raspberry Pi Zero W
    LibreELEC developers announced the release and general availability of the first maintenance update to the major LibreELEC 8.0 stable series of the Linux-based operating system built around the Kodi open-source media center.
  • NetworkManager 1.8 to Support Handling of PINs for PKCS#11 Tokens as Secrets
    Lubomir Rintel announced that the development of the NetworkManager 1.8 major release has kicked off with the availability of the first snapshot, versioned 1.7.2, for public testing.
  • MKVToolnix 10.0.0 Open-Source MKV Manipulator Improves H.264 and H.265 Parsers
    MKVToolnix developer Moritz Bunkus released a new major branch of his popular, open-source and cross-platform MKV (Matroska) manipulation software, versioned 10.0.0.
  • Claws Mail 3.15.0
    Claws Mail is a GTK+ based, user-friendly, lightweight, and fast email client.
  • Claws Mail 3.15 Open-Source Email Client Brings New Hidden Preferences, Bugfixes
    Claws Mail, the lightweight and open-source GTK+ based email client for Linux, UNIX, and Windows operating systems, was updated recently to version 3.15.0, a maintenance update that adds new functionalities and addresses a lot of bugs. Claws Mail 3.15.0 comes more than four months after the first point release to the 3.14 series of the application, and among the new features implemented we can mention a bunch of options that should help users configure Claws Mail when opening a selected message, such as checkboxes on the Display and Summaries page of Preferences.

Games for GNU/Linux

  • It looks like we may be getting a Planescape Torment Enhanced Edition
    Back in January Beamdog was looking for testers on a new game. Now the Planescape website has a countdown timer. It's legitimate too, as tweeted by the Beamdog and the D&D twitter accounts.
  • RTS game 'Deadhold' could come to Linux, considering an experimental Beta
    The developers of Deadhold [Steam, Official Site] want to support Linux and they are thinking about releasing an experimental Linux Beta.
  • Ten amazing Linux games you can play without WINE
    Those of us who have taken up the mantle of a Linux gamer know that our path is rarely easy. For a long time, few games were released for our chosen platform. Those that were shipped riddled with bugs, compatibility issues and rarely worked out of the box. Getting games to work require using WINE and deeply complex almost arcane workarounds to force windows games to work on our quirky systems. Unfortunately, games rarely worked well and usually required hours of complex tweaking in order to get them to function properly. To top this all of, there were graphics driver problems, optimization issues, peripherals rarely worked out of the box and our lives were generally difficult.

Ubuntu-Based LXLE 16.04.2 Gets an RC Build, Promises to Be the Best Release Ever

LXLE 16.04.2 is on its way to becoming the best release ever of the Ubuntu-based distribution built around the lightweight LXDE desktop environment, and it just received a Release Candidate (RC) build. Continuing to get all the goodies from Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS (Xenial Xerus), LXLE 16.04.2 Release Candidate is here only two weeks after the last Beta milestone, and adds quite a bunch of improvements and bug fixes. These include a reconfigured menu layout to be less cluttered for navigation, and a revamped Control Menu to act as a dynamic Control Panel. Read more

These Are the Default Wallpapers of the Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) Linux Distro

Ubuntu member Nathan Haines is proud to inform Softpedia about the availability of the new community wallpapers for the upcoming Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) operating system. Ubuntu 17.04 just got its Final Beta release at the end of last week, and now that Final Freeze stage is approaching fast, it's time for us to have a look at the default wallpapers shipping with the final release, which have been contributed by various artists and photographers from all over the world. Read more