Feds pinch guy who bragged about gaming Google

Online retailer turned negative service reviews into higher search ranking

In the final analysis, online eyewear salesman Vitaly Borker seems to have taken that old saying about any publicity being good publicity way too far ... at least twice.

First, it would seem as though his scheme of gaming Google search results by intentionally providing service so bad it would generate online complaints - and boost his company's Google standing -- was not a sustainable business model.

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Second, and potentially far worse in terms of Borker's future, it turns out that a front-page profile in the New York Times may be read by both potential customers and federal law enforcement authorities.

From an IDG News Service story on our site:

Vitaly Borker, 34, was arrested at his home in Brooklyn, New York, and charged with fraud, cyberstalking and harassment, the U.S. Department of Justice said. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

According to the complaint against him and a profile that appeared in The New York Times last month, Borker made abusive customer service his signature style. Prosecutors say he shipped counterfeit or defective products and threatened customers with violence if they complained.

In one case, Borker allegedly botched an order, overbilled the customer and then, saying he knew where she lived, threatened her with sexual violence. The calls came again and again, continuing "well into the night," according to an affidavit signed by U.S. Postal Inspector Douglas Veatch.

The original Times story was remarkable both for the quality of the reporting and the apparent cluelessness of Borker as to what he was so willingly revealing.

Google, in response to the Times story, said it would be taking steps to ensure that bad customer service wouldn't be good for business, at least not for that portion of one's business generated by Google search ranking.

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