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DecorMyEyes.com Guy Arrested

jrd617

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There was a huge story about this guy last week. (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/28/bu.../28borker.html)

What a jerk.

U.S. Arrests Online Seller Who Scared Customers
By DAVID SEGAL

Federal law enforcement agents on Monday arrested a Brooklyn Internet merchant who mistreated customers because he thought their online complaints raised the profile of his business in Google searches.

The merchant, Vitaly Borker, 34, who operates a Web site called decormyeyes.com, was charged with one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud, making interstate threats and cyberstalking. The mail fraud and wire fraud charges each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The stalking and interstate threats charges carry a maximum sentence of five years.

He was arrested early Monday by agents of the United States Postal Inspection Service. In an arraignment in the late afternoon in United States District Court in Lower Manhattan, Judge Michael H. Dolinger denied Mr. Borker's request for bail, stating that the defendant was either "verging on psychotic" or had "an explosive personality." Mr. Borker will be detained until a preliminary hearing, scheduled for Dec. 20.

The arrest came eight days after The New York Times published a lengthy account of Mr. Borker's campaign of intimidation against a woman named Clarabelle Rodriguez who had bought a pair of glasses from DecorMyEyes over the summer.

When she tried to return the glasses, which she believed were fakes, he threatened to sexually assault her and later sent her a photograph of the front of her apartment building. He also sent menacing e-mails, one of which stated that she had put her "hand in fire. Now it's time to get burned."

In an interview with a reporter from The New York Times in October, Mr. Borker maintained that scaring Ms. Rodriguez "” and dozens of other customers in the last three years "” enhanced the standing of DecorMyEyes in Internet searches on Google. That was because Google's algorithm, he claimed, was unable to distinguish between praise and complaints. All of the negative postings translated into buzz, he said, which helped push DecorMyEyes higher in search results and increased his sales.

It is unclear if Mr. Borker was right about the cause of DecorMyEyes' surprisingly strong showing in online searches. But last week, Google published a post on its official blog stating that it had changed its search formula so that companies were penalized if they provided customers with what it called "an extremely poor user experience."

For months, Ms. Rodriguez was unable to get much traction with any of the law enforcement entities she had called as she coped with Mr. Borker's verbal and written attacks. Now, there seems to be a competition to punish him.

He has already been charged with aggravated harassment and stalking by local authorities and is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges on Dec. 22. The state attorney general's office is conducting its own investigation and could bring additional state charges.

But federal law enforcement seemed eager to partake as well. In a statement released Monday, Preet Bharara, United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said, "Vitaly Borker, an alleged cyberbully and fraudster, cheated his customers, and when they complained, tried to intimidate them with obscenity and threats of serious violence."

At the arraignment, an assistant United States attorney, E. Danya Perry, argued against bail by claiming that Mr. Borker was both a flight risk and a risk to the community. She said that postal inspectors had carted off boxes of apparently counterfeit eyeglasses after searching Mr. Borker's home and had also found a handful of guns, including a semiautomatic machine gun.

Mr. Borker's lawyer, Bruce Kaye, said the weapons were stage props capable of firing only blanks, not live ammunition.

Mr. Kaye argued that Mr. Borker should be released on bail because no one had ever accused him of committing any violent acts. He added that Mr. Borker was family man "” he has a wife and a 2-year-old child "” and was willing to surrender his passport and post a bond worth $500,000.

Judge Dolinger said that even if Mr. Borker had not physically harmed anyone, he could still be a threat to society given his habit of terrifying his customers.

The complaint against Mr. Borker describes the accusations in detail. A DecorMyEyes customer identified as Victim 4 stated that Mr. Borker's threats included a phone call in which he said, "I can hurt you," and, "I know where you work."

Mr. Borker apparently sent e-mail to the company where Victim 4 worked, stating that the customer sold drugs and was gay. Another customer, identified as Victim 3, said that Mr. Borker had sent her an e-mail that included this warning: "PS: don't forget that I know where you live as well," after she mentioned her intent to contact the New York Department of Consumer Affairs. He reportedly later called Victim 3 at all hours of the night, threatening sexual assault.

A far more subdued version of Mr. Borker appeared in court on Monday afternoon. Dressed in jeans and a button-down shirt, he said little. When he was led away by court officers, he turned to look at his wife, who was sitting in the courtroom. He appeared grief stricken and on the verge of tears.

"Sorry," he whispered to her, as he was escorted through a side door.
 

il vecchio

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I nearly bought a pair of Oliver Peoples from this guy but concluded that he was a bit odd and didn't go ahead. Later I received an email from to the effect that he was trying to prove to his bank that he could achieve some record or other in internet sales and offering a discount on items purchased in that month. Needless to say I didn't go ahead.
 

Ataturk

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The guy sounded like an obnoxious dumbass in the NYT article. Even then, I thought the allegations against him were overblown. Didn't the lady accuse him of threatening to rape her when he said he'd "fuck" her for doing a chargeback, or something like that?
 

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