In a bizarre case of theft involving Tesla vehicles, a Vermont man named Michael Gonzalez exploited a payment loophole, securing five electric cars worth $560,000 without paying a dime to the automaker. After selling three of them, he set fire to one, leading to his eventual arrest and conviction. Now, Gonzalez has been sentenced to four years in prison.
- Michael Gonzalez used a payment loophole in Tesla’s system to acquire five cars worth $560,000 without making any payments.
- He managed to sell three of the stolen vehicles, earning $231,900, before being apprehended.
- Gonzalez has been sentenced to four years in prison and agreed to repay $493,000 to Tesla.
In a shocking case of automotive theft, a Vermont man named Michael Gonzalez has been sentenced to four years in prison for exploiting a loophole in Tesla’s payment system to obtain five electric vehicles worth a staggering $560,000. What makes this case even more astonishing is that Gonzalez managed to sell three of these vehicles, earning $231,900, without ever making any payments to the automaker.
According to reports by MarketWatch, Gonzalez’s audacious scheme involved manipulating Tesla’s online payment portal. He entered bank account details into the system, but these accounts had little to no money in them. Tesla would deliver the cars along with their titles, only to later discover that Gonzalez’s accounts lacked sufficient funds. This allowed him to essentially steal the vehicles without immediate financial consequences.
Gonzalez’s criminal activities started in September 2018 when he pulled off this scheme with a Model 3, which he subsequently sold to a used car dealership. To avoid detection, he even used the names of girlfriends in some instances. Two of the stolen Tesla vehicles were sold on platforms like Craigslist and eBay, fetching prices of $108,000 and $97,000, respectively.
One particularly shocking turn of events occurred when, while already incarcerated for an unrelated federal charge related to a firearms application, Gonzalez shared his intentions to sell a nearly repossessed Tesla to a buyer in New Hampshire with his girlfriend. The prison recorded the conversation, providing further evidence of his involvement in these criminal activities.
Despite the audacity of his actions, Gonzalez’s attorney, Chandler Matson, mentioned that his client accepted full responsibility for his crimes and expressed genuine remorse. He also committed to restitution and showed respect for the justice system. As part of his sentence, Gonzalez has agreed to repay $493,000 to Tesla, and the $231,900 he earned from selling the stolen vehicles has been forfeited to the U.S. government.
This case serves as a stark reminder of the importance of security measures within the automotive industry, even for innovative companies like Tesla. It also highlights the lengths to which some individuals will go to exploit vulnerabilities in payment systems.