Eyeglass Vendor, Imprisoned for Terrorizing Consumers, Is Accused of FraudMr. Borker looks like a very tall version of Jonah Hill playing Efraim Diveroli in War Dogs.
By DAVID SEGAL MAY 25, 2017
Vitaly Borker served a three-and-a-half-year stint in prison for threatening to stalk, maim and murder customers of his online eyeglass store, DecorMyEyes. But the court-ordered timeout, it seems, did little to convince him to take a new approach to sales.
Federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced on Thursday that Mr. Borker had been arrested and charged with wire and mail fraud while running OpticsFast.com, an eyewear site that authorities said hassled consumers mercilessly. …Diveroli’s $300 million Pentagon contract was once a 9 days wonder in the news media that was supposed to bring down Dick Cheney. I predicted, however, that it would just turn out to be Brooklyn camera shop bait-and-switch tactics writ large, and that turned out to be the case.
OpticsFast customers told Postal Service inspectors that rather than the luxury brands advertised on the site, they were sold cheap knockoffs, and then badgered and bullied when they asked for refunds. One buyer, a woman in California identified in a criminal complaint as Victim-1, said that someone had called her 35 times a day after she complained online about a fake and damaged pair of Ray-Bans she bought from the site.
She was called a “total degenerate” and “stupid, stupid lady” in emails, according to the complaint. She later received a call from a man who identified himself as a police officer and said that OpticsFast had filed a “civil harassment suit” against her.
… OpticsFast sent him hundreds of emails, including 456 in a single day. Hundreds of them had “I WIN!!!” in the subject line.
Mr. Borker appears to have toned down his previous approach, according to the complaint. None of the victims identified by the government, nor any of the dozens of OpticsFast customers who posted complaints on Yelp, mentioned physical threats. …
Efforts to reach Mr. Borker at the time were unsuccessful, although he was not keeping a particularly low profile. Earlier in the year, he posted a GoFundMe plea for $1,000 to buy long skis for an April trip to Utah. His short skis, he said, would not suffice in deep-powder snow.
“Clearly, I don’t want to pay for this upgrade,” he wrote, in what by his standards qualified as a charm offensive. “Please give me money.”
… “I am looking for a responsible fast paced person who can assist me at my Brighton Beach office doing various projects for my eye wear e-Commerce business,” he wrote. …
Mr. Borker, a 41-year-old immigrant from Ukraine, stands about 6 feet 5 inches tall. In 2010, when he was terrifying customers of DecorMyEye, which was based in Brooklyn, there was a method to his noxious technique: He believed that Google’s search algorithm could not distinguish between positive and negative feedback. The more people griped about his company, his theory went, the more prominently his site appeared in Google search results.
“I’ve exploited this opportunity because it works,” he told a reporter for The New York Times who visited his home in the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. “No matter where they post their negative comments, it helps my return on investment. So I decided, why not use that negativity to my advantage?”
In essence, Mr. Borker believed that the internet allowed him to turn upside down long-cherished verities of commerce, most notably that treating customers well enhances one’s bottom line. Using aliases such as Stanley Bolds and Tony Russo, he threatened to chop off the legs of one customer. He threatened to rape another. He wrote a letter to the office of yet another in which he said the customer was gay and sold drugs. …