‘Behind Every Great Fortune Is A Great Crime’

Federal postal authorities with Vitaly Borker after they arrested him on Monday at his home in Brooklyn.

Federal postal authorities with Vitaly Borker after they arrested him on Monday at his home in Brooklyn. Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

The headline to this post is via Chris Rock, who repeats that line during his “Never Scared” comedy special (link very NSFW!), speaking about the difference between being rich and being wealthy.

It means that significant, lasting wealth is often created by exploiting something new, or using some means to circumvent the kind of behavior most people would consider fair or reasonable. The patron of the exhaulted Kennedy clan made his fortune from bootlegging and insider trading before the 1929 stock market crash. Rockerfeller, Vanderbilt and Morgan were the great robber barons of the U.S. industrial revolution.

I mention this because Vitaly Borker, proprietor of decormyeyes, was arrested today on federal charges of “mail fraud, wire fraud, making interstate threats and cyberstalking.”

Borker, as you will remember from this blog, discovered some time ago that Google’s PageRank algorithm didn’t consider whether the mentioning of an online store was positive or negative. (Google claims this is no longer the case.) Therefore, Borker took a extremely combative approach to customer complaints, intentionally stoking animosity, so that his online store would appear in multiple online complaints, often at very reputable, PageRank-enhancing Web sites, such as Get Satisfaction.

It seemed to work well, and I admired the ingenuity behind it, if not the tactic itself. Seems now, however, that Borker will be a test case as to whether anti-service, and preying upon the gullible / lazy, is at an end. (I might also note that this is further proof that for all the caterwauling, good journalism isn’t dead; if anything, it’s more valuable than ever.)

All links in this post on delicious: http://www.delicious.com/dougvdotcom/behind-every-great-fortune-is-a-great-crime

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