We have all had bad consumer problems. Maybe a rude operator or an item arrives broken. But NEVER in my wildest dreams did I think that my shipment from Joliet, Illinois to Mainland China would turn into a legal issue spanning almost 18 months.
That's right. ShippingQuest lied about their ability to deliver to the Chinese mainland. They had no "agent" in Shenzhen so I had to spend thousands of dollars to pick up my things in Hong Kong and transport them across the border. ShippingQuest lied, messed up and instead of doing the right thing, they did a horrible terrible thing to me. And possibly others as well. Don't Be Next!
What could be so bad I bet you are thinking. Because I wrote some honest yet bad reviews, ShippingQuest sent me a series of bizarre threats that they would ruin my reputation online. You can read what ShippingQuest threatened to do to me on the slider below or here, in the Complaint I filed against them in the federal district court in Chicago in March of 2017.
Here are some select quotes:
March 8, 2017
"We will make your name super famous in ways you cannot imagine. Any one typing the name Wendy Sula will be shocked to see what they find. We don’t just have extra time, we have an entire IT Dept to dedicate to drag your name along the entire Net and make you famous in ways you will not want your kids, friends, family and anyone seeing."
March 8, 2017
"Okay Wendy Since you want to be right then smart. We cannot continue this email nonsense. We have instructed our IT Dept to start a campaign. We will send you the links to prove that we were not kidding with you. We don’t post, we erect pages and websites."
March 8, 2017
After I let them know I had hired an attorney:
"Yeah Right, Have your attorney contact us, we will add him to the mix"
March 8, 2017
"We have just secure the url www.wendysulda.com. We are just getting warmed up.."
March 9, 2017
"The smear war has officially started."
ShippingQuest then had the one guy who is their "IT Department," the Black Hat Hacker and Identity Thief Javier "Chaim" Sajnovsky, put up a website at www.wendysulda.com with a picture of me stolen from one of my online profiles, surrounded by sexually suggestive photos under the heading "Erotic Massage." Yeah. They tried to make it look like instead of owning a school for special needs children, I was running a brothel. You can see the badly done website they created to try to intimidate me into taking down truthful negative reviews that I put up to warn people about their crap shipping service on the slider below.
Looks legit. That's what I thought. But the truth, as admitted in the federal lawsuit I filed against ShippingQuest, is that ShippingQuest is not even a licensed shipping company. Sure, there is a Panamanian company called PriceBreak Shipping, Inc. with a dba as ShippingQuest. That is who they say they are when pressed but really ShippingQuest is just three guys. The Panamanian corporation has nothing to do with the business but is a shell company that Winston Dan Vogel, Albert Abramov and Javier "Chaim" Sajnovsky use to try to avoid being identified or held responsible when they rip people off.
ShippingQuest gives low quotes that seem too good to be true. They are not. There are hidden fees. Once they have your stuff, up goes the price with fees typically for "palletization" and "fuel surcharges." ShippingQuest has a ready made excuse. It is all in the fine print or some "agent" somewhere is responsible...
Don't Believe Me? Check out the the Online Reviews for ShippingQuest for ShippingQuest at Google, PissedConsumer, Kudzu, Resellerratings, Yelp!, RipOffReport, Better Business Bureau, TrustPilot, BirdEye, Yscam and MovingScam. Some of the reviews go back more than a decade and describe the same bait and switch with hidden fees.
That address on your Bill of Lading, 244 5th Ave #2021, New York, NY 10001? Yeah, that is for a virtual office service in New York called NYMail. ShippingQuest actually used this address for ten years but cancelled it a few days after I filed my federal lawsuit against them in March of 2017. There is no real address and no office. Nothing on their website to let you know where you can find the people behind this company.
They will ignore it. Hire an attorney. They will ignore or even threaten the attorney. Sue them like I did and they will not answer. When I filed my federal lawsuit against ShippingQuest in March of 2017, they did not bother answering but chose instead to hide out and do their best to avoid service of process. I had to get special permission from the judge to serve them via email. ShippingQuest definitely knew about the lawsuit from the beginning. Within two days of filing, ShippingQuest's "spokesperson" "Julie Bandras" (who actually does not exist but is a name kind of close to Julie Banderas, a reporter from Fox News that Winston Dan Vogel seems to like) commented to CourtHouse News about the case and denied all. ShippingQuest also hired an attorney in Chicago within a few days of filing.
Post bad reviews or give the people behind ShippingQuest too much push back and you can expect to receive bizarre threats. I am not the only one. See the posting from Mahsajms from March of 2017 on Kudzu, complete with screenshot, calling their customer "garbage" and, just like what they wrote to me, threatening to start a "campaign." Check out this posting on PissedConsumer, which also has a screenshot, where they threaten their customer with posting "you own face book and web page." Or maybe this review from PissedConsumer where the poster warns:
"Be carefull complaining on ShippingQuest! They ruined my entire life and company after posting untruthful vindictive reviews on me all o er the Internet, stealing and attaching my photo to the posts etc.- all that because of simple disagreement due to their price altering policy once they have you in the hook (explained in so many of other customer postings, not only me!)."
So consistent. Coincidental?
How do you get paid if you cannot even find them? Expect to get the runaround for a while from the call center agents in the Philippines they use to keep the scam operating. I actually got a judgment for $100,000 plus attorney's fees against the three guys behind ShippingQuest, Winston Dan Vogel, Albert Abramov and Javier "Chaim" Sajnovsky. They did not even try to deny making the threats or creating the disgusting website.
Have they paid? No, not a dime.
Heed this Warning! Do NOT Use ShippingQuest!
ShippingQuest operates through smooth, glossy websites at www.shipingquest.com, www.shippingquest.net, www.pricebreakshipping.com and www.uboxweship.com. But then who is actually behind it? There are no names or addresses on any of the websites so when I had to sue ShippingQuest for stealing my identity, defamation and fraud, my attorney, Ford Banister, had to conduct an extensive investigation involving multiple subpoenas, just to find out who I should sue. This took some time as the people behind ShippingQuest operate through aliases including Richard Bells, the supposed owner who we never found any evidence actually existed.
According to his profiles at www.opearusa.com, www.prabook.com and Wikipedia, Winston Dan Vogel is a graduate of Juilliard School of Music and was the conductor of the Virginia Symphony Orchestra from 1986-90. Apparently in his sixties, Vogel decided to prioritize being the Conductor of Frauds at ShippingQuest over being a mediocre orchestra conductor. And yes, it is actually him. Winston Dan Vogel is co-registrant of the websites that ShippingQuest operates through. Winston Dan Vogel is the only signatory on the bank account that the company operates through. Winston Dan Vogel reports income from ShippingQuest on his personal tax return. And Winston Dan Vogel is the person who wrote the threatening emails to me. My attorney's investigator traced the IP address and then subpoenaed records from Comcast that showed that the IP address was registered to Winston Dan Vogel.
Albert Abramov is co-registrant of the websites that ShippingQuest operates through. After I filed my lawsuit against ShippingQuest, Albert Abramov contacted one of the domain registrars and asked if he could change the IP address for the website. A 2006 arbitration finding against Albert Abramov shows how this person operates.
Javier "Chaim" Sajnovsky calls himself a "Techie Green Beret" but is actually the dumbest IP person on the planet. Javier "Chaim" Sajnovsky purchased my name as a domain at www.wendysulda.com using his own name, address and personal Paypal account and in the same order that he renewed his registration for www.b7dev.com, one of the domains that he offers tech services through. Javier "Chaim" Sajnovsky then stole a photo from one of my online profiles and created and posted the despicable badly done website that you can view on the slider.
U NITED STATES D ISTRICT COURT
F OR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF I LLINOIS
E ASTERN DIVISION
WENDY LEE SULDA ,
SHIPPINGQUEST . COM , LLC, et al.,
No. 17 CV 2350
Judge Manish S. Shah
Plaintiff’s motion for entry of default judgment  is granted in part. The
Clerk shall enter final judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendants in the
amount of $100,000. The court also awards permanent injunctive relief and orders
defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and other persons
who are in active concert or participation with the defendants and their agents to
transfer the domain www.wendysulda.com to plaintiff. Plaintiff shall recover
attorney’s fees and costs from defendants. Terminate civil case.
Plaintiff Wendy Lee Sulda used the website www.shippingquest.com to
arrange for certain goods to be shipped from Joliet, Illinois, to Shenzhen, China. In
exchange for approximately $2100, the company promised to make delivery to
Shenzhen. But it only managed to get the goods to Hong Kong. (According to Google
maps, Shenzhen is approximately two hours by train from Hong Kong.) Sulda had to
make her own arrangements to get her property from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, and
that cost her approximately $2000 (separate from the time spent and inconvenience
suffered). After Sulda complained to the shipping company, it offered her a $500
These mundane events took a surprising turn when Sulda posted negative
reviews of the company on online forums. The company responded by threatening to
make Sulda “infamous” on the internet. It said that if she did not take down or
retract her reviews, “we will instruct our IT Dept to go on a global campaign against
you.”  ¶ 27. 1 Sulda worked at a school in Shenzhen, and the company said that if she posted negative comments, “our IT will go bananas on you on the net . . . NO
School, no one will want to be associated to you and your wild past.” Id. ¶ 29. Sulda
did not comply, and the company responded by registering a website,
www.wendysulda.com. Id. ¶¶ 35, 40. On that page, the company or someone
affiliated with it posted a photo of Sulda taken from one of her social media accounts.
Id. ¶ 37; [31-1]. Above her picture appeared the words “Erotic Massage.” [31-1]. The
page included other suggestive photos conveying the overall message that Sulda was
in the sex trade. Id.
The webpage and threat to conduct a “smear war” ( ¶ 38) against her
caused Sulda to suffer increased anxiety and emotional distress. She filed suit
against Shippingquest.com, LLC, Price Break Shipping USA, LLC, Winston Dan
Vogel, Albert Abramov, and Javier (aka Chaim) Sajnovsky, bringing claims under
federal anticybersquatting and cyberpiracy statutes (15 U.S.C. §§ 1125(d), 8131) and
the Illinois Right of Publicity Act, and for copyright infringement, false light invasion
of privacy, defamation per se, promissory fraud, and statutory consumer fraud. The
complaint alleged that defendants—individuals and companies associated with
Shippingquest.com—were jointly responsible for falsely promising to deliver goods to
Shenzhen, falsely representing that the company was licensed by government
agencies, engaging in unfair and deceptive business practices, and using Sulda’s
copyrighted photograph in a defamatory website that falsely advertised that Sulda
was in an erotic massage business. After Judge Gottschall authorized service of
process by email, , , the defendants failed to appear. An order of default was
entered against them. . “A default judgment establishes, as a matter of law, that
defendants are liable to plaintiff on each cause of action alleged in the complaint.”
e360 Insight v. The Spamhaus Project, 500 F.3d 594, 602 (7th Cir. 2007). 2
Sulda now moves for final judgment and seeks an award of damages and
injunctive relief. Judgment by default may not be entered without a hearing on damages. 3 Id. at 602. Accordingly, the court conducted a prove-up hearing where
Sulda testified and submitted declarations from other Shippingquest.com customers
along with bank records for an account held in the name of Shippingquest.com, LLC.
The other customers experienced unforeseen charges and expenses when they used
the defendant company, but they did not articulate the kind of hostile and tortious
conduct Sulda suffered. The bank records established that hundreds of thousands of
dollars regularly pass through Shippingquest.com’s accounts (but the balance is
generally in the tens of thousands of dollars).
Sulda credibly testified that she found defendants’ conduct deeply upsetting.
She was worried that she would lose work at the school or prospective employment in
teaching or childcare if someone saw the website. Her suffering was not permanently
debilitating. She provided no record of increased medical expenses; she did not lose
her job (although she did miss some days of work), and she has been able to continue
working. Defendants suggested that the defamatory wendysulda.com website was up
for only twenty-four hours, but there was no evidence of how long it was publicly
viewable. Sulda presented no evidence of anyone else (other than Sulda and
defendants) seeing it or doing anything in response to it. Although the exact duration
is unknown on this record, I infer that the website was short-lived.
Sulda seeks statutory damages in the maximum amount of $100,000 for the
violation of the anticybersquatting act. 15 U.S.C. § 1117(d). She also seeks
compensatory damages and punitive damages. Statutory damages are an alternative
to compensatory damages, Gabbanelli Accordions & Imports, L.L.C. v. Gabbanelli,
575 F.3d 693, 698 (7th Cir. 2009), and where there are multiple theories of recovery,
care should be taken to avoid overcompensation. See Avitia v. Metro. Club of Chicago,
Inc., 49 F.3d 1219, 1232 (7th Cir. 1995). Punitive damages are available, but are
disfavored. 4 See Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc., 74 Ill.2d 172, 188 (1978) (courts must take
caution to see that punitive damages are not improperly or unwisely awarded).
Sulda elected to pursue statutory damages. The maximum amount, $100,000,
would be too great because defendants’ cybersquatting was short-lived and
sophomoric—not the most egregious intellectual property violation. Deterrence is a factor in setting a statutory damages award. See Chi-Boy Music v. Charlie Club, Inc.,
930 F.2d 1224, 1229 (7th Cir. 1991). But, while defendants’ threats suggested that
they regularly engage in smear campaigns, there was no evidence of a larger pattern
of cybersquatting or intellectual property violations. Based on the balances
maintained in the Shippingquest.com, LLC checking account, and the typical fees
charged to individual clients (between $1200 and $4000, as reflected in the customer
declarations submitted by Sulda) a more modest statutory damages award will
suffice to deter future misconduct. I award $50,000 in statutory damages. I decline to
award any additional amount in compensatory damages for the other claims. Fifty
thousand dollars is sufficient to compensate Sulda for the time lost and money spent
in getting her goods to Shenzhen and the significant (but not debilitating) emotional
distress she suffered.
Defendants’ conduct, particularly in threatening Sulda and stealing her name
and photo to use in a defamatory manner, was willful and malicious. It merits
punitive damages. Plaintiff’s request for $10,000,000 in punitive damages is
excessive. After considering the amount of actual harm Sulda suffered, defendants’
financial condition, and the need to deter defendants (and others) from engaging in
similarly reprehensible conduct, I conclude that punitive damages in the amount of
$50,000 shall be awarded. A $50,000 penalty for mistreating a single customer, in a
business that depends on a high volume of apparently low-margin individual
transactions, is a meaningful sanction.
Permanent injunctive relief in the form of a transfer of the domain
wendysulda.com is appropriate. Plaintiff has established that defendants wrongfully
registered a domain using her name, and that her name is a mark used in her
education business. The inability to control her own name for commercial purposes
on a logically named website is an irreparable harm to plaintiff, and money damages
are inadequate to compensate for that injury. There is no hardship to defendants in
relinquishing control over the domain because they have no interest in
cybersquatting on plaintiff’s name—the balance of hardships favors the plaintiff. The
public interest is served by a permanent injunction because it advances the public
policy goals of the anticybersquatting statute. Defendants, their officers, agents,
servants, employees, attorneys, and other persons who are in active concert or
participation with the defendants and their agents shall transfer the domain to
plaintiff. Defendants may be served by email as previously authorized by the court.
Because defendants’ conduct was willful and malicious, Sulda may recover her
attorney’s fees and costs from defendants—such an award is an appropriate exercise
of discretion in this case since defendants’ conduct ought to be deterred and there
was no justification for their conduct. 815 ILCS 505/10a(c); 15 U.S.C. § 8131(2); 17
U.S.C. § 505. The parties shall comply with Local Rule 54.3 with respect to any fee
Date: January 29, 2018
Manish S. Shah
U.S. District Judge
1 Bracketed numbers refer to entries on the district court docket.
2 Defendants filed a motion to vacate the order of default, but that motion was denied. The
motion failed to establish good cause for the default or quick action to correct it. Defendants
were aware of this litigation as early as March 2017, yet never chose to appear, and they
waited over two months before filing a motion to vacate the default. The motion failed to
articulate any meritorious defense—it only asked for more time to investigate.  ¶¶ 12–14;
see generally O’Brien v. R.J. O’Brien & Assocs., 998 F.2d 1394, 1401 (7th Cir. 1993) (to vacate
a default order under Rule 55(c), the defendant must show (1) good cause for its default; (2)
quick action to correct it; and (3) a meritorious defense to the plaintiff’s complaint). At the
hearing on defendants’ motion, defendants suggested that personal jurisdiction did not exist
over them, but even if this argument were meritorious, defendants failed to establish good
cause and quick action.
3 There is an exception to this rule when “the amount claimed is liquidated or capable of
ascertainment from definite figures contained in the documentary evidence or in detailed
affidavits.” e360 Insight, 500 F.3d at 602. But the damages here were not ascertainable from
the record and so a hearing was required.
4 The Illinois Right of Publicity Act and Consumer Fraud Act authorize punitive damages for
willful violations. 765 ILCS 1075/40(b); 815 ILCS 505/10a(a). Punitive damages may be
awarded for Illinois torts, like defamation per se, that are committed willfully and
maliciously. See Kelsay v. Motorola, Inc., 74 Ill.2d 172, 186 (1978); Slovinski v. Elliot, 237
Ill.2d 51, 58 (2010).