An Online Glasses Retailer Waged A Campaign Of Harassment Against Its Own Customers To Boost Its Search Rankings
DecorMyEyes was an online eyeglasses retailer run by New Yorker/Grand Theft Auto side-character Vitaly Borker. The company resold "designer" glasses and sunglasses using a bizarre scam that thrust countless unsuspecting buyers into an actual horror movie. According to Borker, the company started legit until he lost his temper and snapped at a few customers. To his surprise, their negative reviews caused his search rankings to improve. It pointed out a hole in Google's algorithm -- they boosted your search ranking the more your site was discussed, regardless of it being positive or negative. And so he began a bizarre reign of terror against his own customers.
As soon as a shopper complained about his shitty knockoffs, Borker would go completely insane. He would call them up and scream at them, bombard them with emails and fake lawsuits, harass them at 3 AM, and fraudulently charge their card. He told one buyer he would chop his legs off, threatened another with rape, and sent a third person intimidating photos of her house from Google Earth. Poor people that just wanted some goddamn RayBans found themselves dealing with the online equivalent of Robert de Niro in Cape Fear. All the while, Borker was basically daring them to complain online. So they did.
Social media and review sites quickly filled with nightmarish warnings never to do business with DecorMyEyes. Whole communities formed for the victims to comfort each other, only for Borker to show up and taunt them on forums. Soon, just Googling "DecorMyEyes" would turn up pages and pages of horror stories, which was precisely what Borker wanted since he was counting on the constant negative discussion to boost his site up the search rankings. And it worked.
See people don't actually try to buy glasses by Googling some random reseller, so they never saw the DecorMyEyes reviews. Instead, buyers would search for the name of a luxury glasses brand, which would turn up the DecorMyEyes page as the top result, often above the designer's own site. Borker was also careful to attack only a few shoppers per month, keeping him below the complaints threshold for being banned by most credit card companies.
He kept this up for years until the New York Times did a story exposing the whole thing. Borker subsequently went to prison, while Google changed its algorithm to be slightly better at discouraging pure evil.
An Antique Shop Secretly Made Thousands By Shaking Down People Who Parked Outside
Bashford Antiques seemed to be a typical antique shop located in a trendy suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. At worst, you'd have expected it to hide a haunted marionette or two. But, behind the scenes, one of the owners was a bankrupt sex shop owner, previously jailed for pretending to be a European prince in order to steal a yacht. When that was your starting point, it shouldn't have been a surprise when it turned out that the antique store was just a front for a parking shakedown that terrorized the entire neighborhood and raked in thousands of dollars.