Friday, March 31, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Online Retailer Charged|With Threatening Clients

(CN) - An online retailer who bragged to The New York Times that unhappy customers boosted his high-end eyewear business was arrested and charged with cyber-bullying and dealing in counterfeit goods, prosecutors said Monday.

The Brooklyn-based Vitaly Borker sold designer glasses and accessories through, which became infamous as a lightning rod for consumer complaints.

Borker was quoted in a recent New York Times story as saying he was "in heaven" when he realized how high his Google ranking was. He claimed that negative customer reviews brought him more business.

"My goal is NEGATIVE advertisement," he said in that article.

Prosecutors say Borker bought cheap or counterfeited goods from eBay and other retailers, and threatened some unhappy customers who were disappointed with their orders.

"Listen, bitch," he allegedly told the persistent customer. "I know your address. I'm one bridge over."

Borker also sent the customer a Google Earth image of her apartment building and said he was watching her.

In the wake of the Times article, Google announced last week that it was changing the way it ranks search results to avoid rewarding merchants like Borker.

Borker, who also uses the aliases Tony Russo and Stanley Bolds, was charged with cyber-stalking, threats, and mail and wire fraud. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.