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Nasty Competition Fuels Dirty Business Tricks

Hemera Technologies/AbleStock[dot]com(NEW YORK) -- Stewart Patey, owner of a new mattress store in Everett, Wash., believes a rival business took competition too far by vandalizing his delivery truck. The incident appears to be part of a rising tide of business sabotage both online and offline being reported across the country.

Patey first noticed wiring scraps next to his truck outside his store in Everett last week. A surveillance camera captured video of an unidentified man crawling under Patey's delivery truck at 2:18 a.m. on May 19. Patey, who opened Mattress City in April with his wife, said he believes someone is trying to sabotage his business.

The surveillance video shows the man remained there for about 17 minutes cutting wires, which led to repairs of $300. Before this vandalism, Patey said he has reported three incidents of graffiti, also caught on video. In the six weeks Patey's store has been open for business, he filed four police reports and has paid about $1,600 in repair costs.

Small business sabotage appears to be on the rise, especially in a tight economy.

Competitors are also turning to online sabotage as well. And it's not just the little guys who want to get an edge -- social network giant Facebook admitted a few weeks ago that it hired top public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to pitch anti-Google stories to media outlets, suggesting story lines that Google was invading people's privacy.

Panagiotis Ipeirotis, a professor of information systems at New York University's Stern School of Business, said a virtual cottage industry has sprung up where individuals are paid to write comments boosting businesses -- or knocking others -- on review websites like Yelp or Amazon. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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