Sheepshead Bay is home to cyber-bully number one, Vitaly Borker, a cut-throat online retailer exposed in a New York Times article over the weekend.
Borker, through his online eyeglass store DecorMyEyes, specializes in belittling customers and terrorizing them with not-so-thinly veiled threats of violence as part of his sales strategy.
And business is booming.
According to the report, the scam artist takes online orders for designer eyewear, buys the product from eBay and ships it to customers. If the order is wrong or the product counterfeit, Borker refuses to refund money and shouts the customer down.
The result is a slew of bad complaints on blogs and consumer advocacy websites, all of which link back to his page and move his webpage up the Google ranks, putting him as a top result for Google searches for specific brand names.
The more vicious the insult, the more tenacious the client is in posting negative reviews, and the better search exposure Borker receives.
So Borker ups his game.
“Listen, bitch,” he told a customer. “I know your address. I’m one bridge over,” he went on. “Then, she said, he threatened to find her and commit an act of sexual violence too graphic to describe in a newspaper.”
Moving forward with her complaint, the customer received a photo of her apartment building with the message, “Do the right thing and everyone goes away. I AM WATCHING YOU!”
Using a number of fictitious characters representing malevolent customer service trolls, like one named Tony Russo, Borker even considers creating narratives to further feed online chatter.
When online fury about DecorMyEyes drops off, he dreams up new ways to stoke it. He briefly considered fabricating a story that Tony Russo had committed a murder — where he would have posted this story he doesn’t say — which he then planned to link anonymously to Get Satisfaction.
Ah, Sheepshead Bay. Leading the way in online retail innovation, eh?
But the best part? Poor Borker considers himself the victim.
Which gets to the real impediment to capitalism, Borker-style, and the reason it is unlikely to catch on: it is physically exhausting. Mr. Borker typically works from about 10 a.m. until 5 the next morning, spending much of that time feuding with unhappy customers. He describes this grueling regimen of confrontation with a heaviness that is enough to make you want to give him a hug.
“I’m sure this is taking a toll on my health,” he complains. “I probably won’t live as long as you.”
Luckily for online consumers, the report spurred action from Borker’s enablers. The company that stores the website’s files online is refusing to continue hosting his site. MasterCard, eBay and Citigroup are also taking action.
But, as the report highlights, there are few obstacles for malicious merchants like Borker from abusing the internet – and customers – to ramp up business. And even those who’ve been exposed, like Borker, can find a workaround.