5 Times Huge Companies Straight-Up Acted Like Supervillains

This may come as a surprise, but gigantic, profit-hungry corporations don't always have the public's best interests at heart. We've seen plenty of dystopian sci-fi flicks (and also just, like, the news), so we kind of expect corporations to be evil. But sometimes they're so brazenly mustache-twirly that you'll long for the good old days when at least they were honest about employing children in coal mines in exchange for shiny pennies.

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5
The Peanut Corporation Of America Knowingly Infected People With Salmonella

Contaminated peanuts can cause salmonellosis, something many Americans became intimately aware of thanks to Peanut Corporation of America CEO Stewart Parnell, the worst peanut-related monster since Mr. Peanut (he knows what he did).

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Salmonella infects about one million people each year, kills 380 of them, and leaves the rest with nasty cramps and diarrhea. Knowing all that, Parnell still approved the shipment of salmonella-tainted peanut paste to 46 states from 2007 to 2009. Parnell's legume lawlessness infected 714 people, nine of whom died.

pilipphoto/Adobe StockHe treated people's lives like they were worth, well ...

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Like any good supervillain, Parnell even had an evil catchphrase. When a plant manager warned him of the contamination, he said "just ship it," because it would save "huge $$$$$." That email helped put him away for 28 years, and his company went bankrupt. Score one for corporate justice. And we literally mean "one," because this represents the only time in history that a CEO has been sentenced for shipping contaminated food, despite multitudes of other known cases.

4
Insys Bribed Doctors To Prescribe Fentanyl-Based Cancer Drugs To People Without Cancer

The opioid addiction epidemic is bad, as so many epidemics tend to be. But pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics developed an opioid-based medication called Subsys to help treat pain from various cancers, and that makes Insys a good guy overall.

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Right?

Enter profit.

Insys TherapeuticsExit humanity.

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CEO John Kapoor wanted to further increase the runaway sales of Subsys, even if it meant using insurance fraud and bribery to get doctors to prescribe his addictive products to patients didn't need it. Including patients who didn't even have cancer. Two of those doctors were rounded up for issuing a quarter-million prescriptions for Subsys and other opioids, many of which were abused by addicts or ended up in the hands of drug traffickers.

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Kapoor was eventually arrested and charged, because holy s**t of course he was, but he was merely the latest in a string of Insys bigwigs to participate in this "nationwide conspiracy" that even Umbrella Corporation would think was a bit much. Their stock dipped 23 percent after the news, although Insys is trying to bounce back by developing a drug to "reverse" opioid overdoses, which sounds like a good thing, but remember where we started.

3
A Hockey Arena CEO Suggests Fans Who Buy Obstructed Seats Should Watch Games On Their Phones

When the NHL's New York Islanders moved from Nassau County to Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2015, it marked the end of an era for fans, and was approximately the 32,435th most important sports story of the New York area that year. But it soon became apparent that the move was going to be a disaster for the Islanders, who really should have been used to disasters at that point.

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The Barclays Center had been designed perfectly for basketball, but it worked ... less well for an entirely different sport. Ticket buyers found several seats with obstructed views, meaning they were paying upwards of 100 bucks to stare at a column or railing. It was up to BSE Global CEO Brett Yormark to address the issue, obviously by offering refunds and stopping the sale of those seats until the obstructions had been remedied.

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Just kidding! Yormark offered fans pro tips on what to do when you've bought tickets to a hockey game you can't see. In his own actual human words, Yormark said: "Our seating capacity is over 15,700. Within that capacity there's a lot of great seats. Do we have some obstructed seats? Yes we do. There's really nothing we're going to do from a capital improvement standpoint. You can watch the game on your mobile device. The game is on the scoreboard. There are many ways to view the game if you're in one of those obstructed seats. But there are certainly other ways we can enhance the experience." Who wouldn't want to pay $100 for the privilege of going out to watch a hockey game on their phone? The Islanders are, for some strange reason, currently working on a new home.

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2
Sears Claims Clearance Pricing During A Shutdown, Jacks Up Prices Instead

Sears had an impressive 125-year run as a retail giant, but with online shopping offering all the benefits of department stores with none of the human interaction, they felt the future breathing down their necks. They tried to survive by merging with Kmart in 2005, but profits went into steady decline. So in 2017, Sears Holdings shut down a number of Kmart and Sears storefronts across the United States, along with every last Sears in Canada.

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The announcement, like all shocking Canadian news, resulted in polite shrugs from the populace. However, when Sears then announced that the shutdown would be accompanied by a liquidation sale, Canadians flocked to their local Sears to purchase all the outdated fashion, scratchy towels, and overpriced appliances their hearts desired.

Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine"A cassette boombox? Don't mind if I do."

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But when it was discovered that instead of the promised discounts, Sears was in fact raising prices, it resulted in perhaps the greatest scandal in Canadian history. Well ... since that one prime minister straight up choked a protester, anyway.

Canadian media was soon flooded with photos of customers peeling off the stickers on their "clearance" purchases, only to find that Sears was raising the price of these items that were supposed to be on sale. Although Sears promised to clear up any "erroneous" pricing, customers encountered different results. One woman found a 20 percent off jacket that had jumped in price from 49 dollars to 69, basically negating the supposed deal. When she asked a cashier about the discrepancy, she was accused of tampering with tags. No wonder Sears went out of business. There's evil, and then there's just lazy.

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1
Bank Of America Tricks A Customer Into Committing A Crime, Then Has Him Arrested

San Francisco resident Matthew Shinnick was trying to sell two bikes on Craigslist. He asked $600 from one buyer, and received a $2,000 Bank of America check instead (this was in 2006, when checks still existed). When Shinnick inquired about the discrepancy, the buyer replied that the extra amount was "for [your] trouble." Understandably suspicious, Shinnick took the sketchy check to his local Bank of America branch in Knob Hill and asked them to ensure it had come from a valid account.

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The teller confirmed that all was well, so Shinnick signed the check and asked for it to be cashed. He then patiently waited to receive his money, no doubt daydreaming about all the other unexpected surprises he might encounter in this magical world wherein Craigslist sales go better than you expect. Then four police officers entered the bank, kicked Shinnick's legs apart, and put him in handcuffs. The teller, realizing that Shinnick's check was phony, chose not to inform the man who had openly asked her about its legitimacy, but instead watched him sign it, thus becoming party to a felony, before calling the police on him.

Coolcaesar at the English language Wikipedia"Only we're allowed to rip people off in our banks."

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What followed was a day of hell for Shinnick, who sat handcuffed in the bank lobby for 45 minutes, then spent a further five hours in custody before being allowed to call his parents. Shinnick was finally released after his dad posted bail, and although all charges would soon be dropped, the experience cost Shinnick about $14,000 in legal fees, and also ruined whatever hilariously misplaced faith he had in Craigslist at the start of all this.

Bank of America claimed no wrongdoing, stating that they were simply fulfilling their obligation to report a potential crime, and also scoffed at Shinnick's request for reimbursement. They argued that they were protected by a legal precedent that "shields institutions and people from liability when reporting suspected crimes to the police." They were right, given that Shinnick never received a cent from them, although critics pointed out that a far more appropriate action would've been to do literally anything else.

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Stephan Roget does Twitter stuff over @StephanRoget, and does Cracked stuff over at right here! They are almost certainly not a Russian algorithm designed to undermine Western society with pithy observations about popular culture! Nyet way!

Man, they need to write a sequel to How To Be A Supervillain, don't they?

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For more, check out 5 Outrageous Lies Companies Are Legally Allowed To Tell You and 5 Creative New Ways Businesses Are Screwing Over Employees.

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