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Spidey Sense

Corporations have gone after critics by deploying a whole range of skullduggery, from racketeering charges to death threats.

But for zealots at eBay, their retribution of choice was apparently a box of live spiders.

The online giant now has to pay a $3 million criminal penalty after the company harassed a Massachusetts couple who run a news website, EcommerceBytes Blog, and for attempting to deter the ensuing investigation, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.

In August 2019, several company employees sent "anonymous and disturbing deliveries to the victims’ home, including a book on surviving the death of a spouse, a bloody pig mask, a fetal pig and a funeral wreath and live insects," the Justice Department says.

eBay employees also sent anonymous messages threatening to track the couple and even resorted to using Craigslist by "inviting the public for sexual encounters at the victims’ home," the Justice Department says.

"Senior executives at eBay were frustrated with the newsletter’s tone and content, and with the comments posted beneath the newsletter’s articles," the Justice Department writes.

Bad Company

As part of the agreement with the federal government, eBay will be monitored for three years. Two employees were jailed stemming from the investigation into the harassment campaign, though tellingly, the CEO at the time, Devin Wenig, has never been charged.

The victims, Ina and David Steiner, are not quite happy with the outcome because investigators never interviewed the company's top executives.

"eBay's actions against us had a damaging and permanent impact on us — emotionally, psychologically, physically, reputationally, and financially — and 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 couple wrote on their website.

But justice may still be served in another way: the couple is also pursuing a civil lawsuit against eBay with a trial date set in March 2025.

More on spiders: Experts Say Popular Body Lotion Not Attracting Horny Spiders

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