Watch CBSN Live

Online Retailer Guilty of Fraud, Threats

This post was updated May 12.
DecorMyEyes founder Vitaly Borker -- also known as Tony Russo and Stanley Bolds -- pled guilty Thursday, May 12, to mail fraud, wire fraud and sending threatening communications. The charges carry a maximum prison sentence of 50 years, though prosecutors have recommended he be incarcerated for 5 to 7 years. Borker was arrested in December and charged with defrauding customers of his online eye wear company and making repeated and violent threats to customers who attempted to return defective goods.

Borker, who was the subject of a recent expose in the New York Times, apparently profited by understanding that a glitch in Google's search algorithm didn't differentiate between complaints and comments about his luxury eye wear firm. As a result, DecorMyEyes appeared high in every designer eye wear search because of a massive number of complaints filed against his company. Google has since changed its search formula to push bad actors down in the search results.

However Manhattan's U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said DecorMyEyes' business practices, which already allegedly involved selling counterfeit and broken eye wear, turned particularly sinister when Borker physically threatened customers who disputed credit card charges for the fake and broken goods he sold or filed complaints at online sites. Borker often used the aliases Tony Russo and Stanley Bolds, according to the complaint, but his business practice was consistent.

According to the complaint, numerous New York area consumers --those who lived closest to Borker's Brooklyn operation -- were threatened with death or rape in obscenity-laced phone and email messages when they attempted to return merchandise. Borker consistently told these local consumers: "Remember that I know where you live." And even sent one complaining customer a photograph of the outside of her building, leaving her certain that her life was in danger.

"Online consumers should never be in fear for their safety simply because they have chosen the convenience of online shopping," said Bharara in a prepared statement. "But that's what allegedly occurred in this case."

Borker, 34, was arrested Monday at his home in Brooklyn, New York. A search of his residence found several firearms and ammunition, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.

Calls to DecorMyEyes were not returned prior to press time.

More on MoneyWatch
Beware Gift Card Rip-Offs
6 Things You Should Never Say on Facebook
4 Ways to Meet Wesley Snipes in Prison
Holiday Retail Rip-Offs
401(k) Theft: Signs Your Employer is Stealing Your Savings

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue