Online Retailer Incarcerated for Bad Customer Service

The owner of online eyewear retailer has been sentenced by a New York judge to four years imprisonment, after threatening to murder or rape customers.

Vitaly Borker was convicted for deliberately harassing and abusing (at times, downright stalking) his website’s customers in order to harness the power of negative press. In what might be the most extreme example of ‘black hat’ e-commerce practices, Borker had discovered he could increase his brand’s visibility on Google by inciting negative online reviews and comments.

The unsavoury practice was initially jumped on by the media after Borker bragged about his discover in The New York Times.┬áIn response, Google felt obliged to revise its ranking algorithms in order to ensure others don’t attempt to ‘game’ its search functionality in a similar fashion.

Borker was arrested in December last year and charged with cyber stalking and wire fraud (among others). US District Judge Richard Sullivan sentenced the man last night, ordering him to pay just under $100,000 in fines and restitution on top of the four years of jail time.

Borker claims to be “deeply sorry”, while his lawyer attributed the man’s extreme behaviour on a combination of mental illness and substance abuse.