Six former eBay employees are accused of orchestrating a harassment campaign that included sending their victims a box full of cockroaches and a "preserved fetal pig," the US Justice Department said Monday.
The alleged harassment targeted a couple who published an e-commerce newsletter that eBay deemed critical of the company.
In August 2019, two members of eBay's executive leadership team sent or forwarded messages indicating it was time to "take down" the newsletter's editor.
In response, six high-level employees associated with eBay's security and intelligence teams are alleged to have embarked on a harassment plot.
US authorities say the scheme included sending the couple grotesque home deliveries, including a bloody pig Halloween mask, a funeral wreath and a box of live cockroaches.
Those involved also allegedly sent increasingly threatening messages, including public tweets and private messages criticizing the newsletter's content.
One of the suspects, a former police captain, is accused of then planning to approach the victims and offer help to stop the harassment "in an effort to promote good will towards eBay, generate more favourable coverage in the newsletter, and identify the individuals behind the anonymous comments," the Justice Department said.
The six suspects have been charged with conspiracy to commit cyberstalking and conspiracy to tamper with witnesses.
eBay said the employees have already been fired.
The company said it conducted an internal investigation into its ex-CEO Devin Wenig's possible involvement in the plot and found no evidence that he "knew in advance about or authorized the actions" against the couple.
Wenig's communications at the time were "inappropriate" eBay added in its statement.