First, good Google rankings, then an arrest for cyber-bullying Brooklyn eyewear merchant
Cyber-bullying initially landed Vitaly Borker, the Brooklyn eyewear merchant who goaded customers into posting scathing online reviews, with a better position on Google searches. Now it’s landed him a trip to jail.
After bragging last month to the New York Times that he had discovered and was exploiting a glitch in Google’s ranking system, Vitaly was arrested Monday and charged with cyber-stalking, making interstate threats and mail and wire fraud.
Google last week hurriedly patched the anomaly, promising that businesses with scads of negative reviews would not be ranked highly among search results.
“Millions of people shop online and rightfully assume they are dealing with legitimate and honest vendors,” said Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement.
“Especially during this holiday shopping season, today's arrest should send a message that we will protect online consumers and that victims of people like Borker are not alone."
Borker, 34, is accused of allegedly threatening customers who visited his luxury eyewear site DecorMyEyes.com. Their furious online comments helped catapult the site to the top of Google’s search results, drawing in more customers.
Since at least 2007, Borker had sent defective and counterfeit glasses to customers, refused to give refunds when warranted, charged exorbitant fees and harassed customers under aliases such as Tony Russo and Stanley Bolds.
At least 200 complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission by U.S. and foreign victims.
Authorities found weapons and ammunition at Borker’s home when they arrested him Monday. Calling him a “fraudster,” Bharara said that he could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted of all charges, which were filed Friday.
-- Tiffany Hsu
Photo: Boris Roessler / EPA