A Fraudster Who Doesn’t Stop… Selling Glasses
What if they can’t help it?
Counterfeiters are being caught, convicted and jailed as long as there are enough cages to hold defendants. Through the Purpose Walk and Trial, the public is left to contemplate the audacity of misdemeanor (in the case of Elizabeth Holmes) or its disastrous awakening (Bernie Madoff) and wonder: who has someone to commit such a crime. What if something so adventurous that it’s on the verge of being unbelievable?
One answer comes from the ongoing and perplexing case of Vitaly Borkar. Mr Borkar, a 45-year-old native of Ukraine, was arrested last week by federal postal inspectors in Brooklyn and charged with mail fraud and wire fraud. This is his third entanglement with the law for a similar allegation – threatening and defrauding customers of his online eyeglass store.
As compulsions go, it just feels weird. Mr. Borkar apparently loves the tedious task of stalking and intimidating eyeglass buyers so much that after more than five years in prison, over two terms, he still hasn’t sought a new career. Prosecutors at the US Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York allege that Mr Borker did not wait until he was a free man to begin billing customers again in June 2020. He was still halfway home.
Dominic Amorosa, his lawyer, said in an email that Mr Borker’s intention was to plead not guilty.
Business and popular culture both reward tirelessness, even when it seems excessive. Michael Jordan used to imagine that basketball opponents insulted him personally in order to turbocharge his hypercompetitive enthusiasm. The attention span of many CEOs can seem like a frenzy. Al Dunlap, a former CEO of Sunbeam Equipment Company and a man who brought a hunter’s delight to firing employees, was a key figure in the book, “The Psychopath Test.”
But these people have a little trouble staying on the right side of the law. For Mr Borkar, it appears to be a struggle, although he has recently curbed the excesses of his earliest and most harmful methods, suggesting he understands there is a line between legal and illegal behavior.
In 2010, he ran a website called DecorMyEyes, which regularly sent out cheap, counterfeit versions of glasses made by companies like Dior and Chanel, and was furious when refunds were demanded.
Then he became even more aggressive. Using the pseudonym Stanley Boulds, he often threatened to cripple or murder Buyers. In one case he had vowed to cut off a woman’s leg. In another, he sent an email with a photo of a client’s apartment building and a note that said, “P.S. Don’t forget I know where you live.” He once sent an email to a customer’s associates informing that the customer was gay and engaged in drugs.
Mr Borkar, who is 6 feet 5 inches tall, most likely must have gotten over someone whom he personally wanted to endanger. But no one ever said he followed through on his physical threats. However, many were frightened that they swallowed the message boards of consumer complaint sites like getatisfaction.com.
In an oddly candid interview a week before his first arrest in 2010, Mr. Borkar described his brutal approach to customer service as a pioneer of Internet commerce. They claimed that Google searches didn’t distinguish between negative and positive feedback, so the more people raved about Decoramayes Online, the higher their company ranks in search results.
On its blog, Google announced after its first arrest that it had changed its algorithms and that from now on “being bad for customers is bad for business at Google.”
In the latest case, Mr. Borkar’s strategy has largely softened. The complaint submitted by the government describes an online seller, which in less legal terms can be described as a liar and a jerk.
Their website claims to sell “brand new and authentic designer glasses and sunglasses”. Actually, it has been said in the complaint that the glasses were old or fake. Mr. Borkar also refused to provide refund when demanded by the customers. Someone identified as Victim 2 got a refund, but about $50 shy of a full one.
If Mr. Borkar returns to prison, history shows that he is unlikely to recover. At the most basic level, he simply enjoys the job. He once explained to a reporter that he enjoyed the chaos and frantic energy required to constantly haunt dozens of buyers.
“I love madness,” he said. “It works for me.”
In the previous case, mental health experts assigned by the court concluded that Mr Borkar displayed symptoms of bipolar disorder, narcissism and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In a letter from before the sentencing, he seemed to agree. “Something is not right inside my mind,” he wrote.
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