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

Devices: BeagleBoard, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), internet of things (IoT), and eCosPro

  • New PocketBeagle Open Source Developer Board Unveiled (video)
    Anyone looking for a tiny development board may be interested in the new hardware unveiled by BeagleBoard the form of their open source PocketBeagle which is now available to purchase priced at just $25. The Raspberry Pi Zero sized PocketBeagle can be used in robotic applications, drones and 3D printers and is based on the Octavo Systems OSD3358 system-in-package (SiP), the same SiP that powers the credit card-sized BeagleBone Black Wireless, but is half the size.
  • Driving Manufacturing Productivity through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
    Samsung is a major manufacturer of electronic components for clients such as Apple, Sony, HTC, and Nokia. It is also the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile devices and happens to be the world’s largest memory chip manufacturer. In July 2017, Samsung Electronics overtook Intel as the largest semiconductor chip maker in the world.
  • What is edge computing and how it’s changing the network
    Edge computing allows data produced by internet of things (IoT) devices to be processed closer to where it is created instead of sending it across long routes to data centers or clouds. Doing this computing closer to the edge of the network lets organizations analyze important data in near real-time – a need of organizations across many industries, including manufacturing, health care, telecommunications and finance.
  • eCosCentric Limited's eCosPro
    The developer of eCos, eCosCentric Limited, recently announced the latest 4.1 release of eCosPro, the stable, fully tested and supported version of the operating system and RedBoot bootstrap firmware. The new 4.1 release of the eCosPro Developer's Kit includes the latest Eclipse Neon IDE, provides improvements to the eCosPro Eclipse plugin and development tools and integrates a variety of runtime enhancements.

OSS and Sharing Leftovers

  • American International University, West Africa Extends Curriculum as Open Source Initiative Member
    The Open Source Initiative® (OSI), the global non-profit formed to educate about, and advocate for, the benefits of open source software and build bridges among different constituencies in the open source community, announced today that The American International University, West Africa's (AIUWA) has joined the organization as an Affiliate Member. AIUWA is a unique educational instituion of higher education, combining degree-seeking programs, along with professional development and certification. The program's mandatory academic and professional courses enable students to graduate with both academic credentials and professional qualifications. AIUWA also serves as a center for health, management, and information technology research and development in Africa.
  • Adding More Policy Firepower to the Mozilla Network
    In June, Mozilla launched a new fellowship that brings together policy experts from around the world to advance crucial tech policy efforts. Today, we are excited to announce the appointment of seven advisors to help steer this fellowship into the future. We are also announcing one new fellow, bringing the cohort to 11 fellows from four countries who are already up to great work. Over the past three months, Mozilla’s Tech Policy Fellows have been digging into their projects to keep the Internet open and freely accessible to all. With most fellows joining directly out of government service, they’re continuing to move forward some of the urgent policy efforts they had been leading, and working to avoid any backsliding that might come with government transitions. The fellows’ work is focused on protecting net neutrality, advancing policies around artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, promoting affordable broadband service for vulnerable communities, and more. Amba Kak is our most recent addition, starting this month to work on promoting net neutrality in India. To advance this work, the fellows are meeting with policymakers inside and outside of government; they’re keynoting major events and giving press interviews about the importance of these topics; and in the coming weeks, they’ll share more about their work with the Mozilla network on our network blog.
  • MongoDB’s Mongo Moment [Ed: Ridiculous. The "journalist" writing about MongoDB here has received many paychecks from the company.]
  • OpenSSH 7.6 Is Ready For Testing & Finishes Gutting SSHv1
    OpenSSH 7.6 will be hitting the streets soon.
  • New FreeBSD Committer
    So in a sense I have been part-time part of the FreeBSD Community for nearly 15 years as well. FreeBSD has reached Tier-1 status within KDE now, with the KDE FreeBSD CI, which much stronger upstreaming happening, and with Tobias and Raphael following new releases pretty closely. I’ve been pushing and prodding at our ports tree a lot, and chasing CMake releases (and reporting bugs), and trying to get some KDE KF5-based applications into the official ports tree. So I’m happy to now receive a FreeBSD ports commit bit, with Tobias and Raphael acting as mentors. I won’t pretend this will immediately lead to Qt 5.9 and KDE Applications 17.latest in the official FreeBSD ports tree, but it increases the (direct) effort we can expend on it.
  • Free the Seed: An Open Source Approach to Food Crop Seed
    We Americans value the freedom to do what we want with our property. These days, our freedom of action in regard to what we own is increasingly being eroded and constrained by the expansion of corporate power and the evolving legal dimensions of ownership. Nowhere has this tendency to limit freedom to operate come into sharper focus than in farming. A farmer may buy a John Deere tractor, but ownership of the copyrighted software—without which the tractor cannot run and cannot be repaired—is retained by the company. According to Deere, the farmer has “an implied lease” to operate the tractor but is prohibited from making any repair or change involving use of the copyrighted code.
  • Synthace raises a £7.3m Series A to bring open source to biotech
    Synthace, a UK startup using open source technology to make process in biotechnology move faster, has raises a £7.3m Series A round. New investors White Cloud Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and Eleven Two Capital participated alongside existing investors that included Sofinnova Partners, SOSV and Bioeconomy Capital. The Company’s Antha operating system replaces processes which are currently done, almost, by hand. CEO Tim Fell says the company came out of the desire to better engineer biology: “Our need to heal, feed, fuel and manufacture for a growing population can be met by unlocking the near infinite power of biology but only by bringing software abstraction and more automation to biological R&D and manufacturing, and by enabling biologists to build atop their collective work. That is what the Antha platform does.”
  • Runway to Open Source Machine Learning Research
  • Accelerate Application Modernization with Node.js
    Node.js is much more than an application platform. In a 2016 Forrester report, the research firm talked with several Node.js users and developers to better understand the growth of Node within global enterprises across all a range of industries.
  • GitLab v10 Integrates with Kubernetes
    It’s been six months and two million downloads since GitLab released version 9.0 of its developer-centric integrated application development platform. The company kept busy in the time since, polling nearly 1,000 users at client companies like VMWare, Sony and Ticketmaster to find out what capabilities their developers needed to power up the most enterprise-worthy GitLab release yet.

Hyperledger’s Brian Behlendorf and More Blockchain

Openwashing and Facebook's Oddball Licence