Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Remember Vitaly Borker, the SEO Menace of Sheepshead Bay? OK, we just invented that nickname, but the details of his story might sound familiar. After realizing that negative customer feedback would boost the Google rankings of his eyewear website DecorMyEyes, Borker began abusing his customers. He threatened to rape or kill some of them, and he sent one woman a photo of her apartment building, the implication being that he knew where she lived. The Times profiled Borker and his unorthodox business practices last November, and he was arrested in December after cops found counterfeit merchandise, guns, and what looked like child pornography in his Sheepshead Bay home.
Yesterday, Borker pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud, and two counts of sending threatening messages. In a prepared statement, he explained, "I was answering personally about 100 e-mails a day and lost control of what I was saying at times" and offered an apology to everyone he threatened. Borker won't be sentenced until September 16, and it's still unclear what his fate will be. He could face up to six and a half years in jail, but his lawyer thinks he won't see more than 18 months.
· A Bully Finds a Pulpit on the Web [NYT]
· Bullying, Cyber-Stalking Eyeglass E-Tailer Arrested in Brooklyn [Racked NY]
· Online Seller Who Bullied Customers Pleads Guilty [NYT]