No one was killed but there was a massive scam.
If you commit a crime, then chances are you're getting to get caught sooner or later. That's what a Vermont man named Michael Gonzalez, 32, has just learned following his indictment for stealing over $600,000 worth of Teslas beginning in September 2018 until this past January. The District of Vermont US Attorney's Office has released details and timeline of Gonzalez's scam which led to, among other things, a brand new Tesla Model X worth over $150,000 getting torched and abandoned on a frozen lake in February 2019.
Miraculously, the fire didn't melt the ice, but police still couldn't figure out the mystery. Let's start at the beginning. In September 2018, Gonzalez reserved a Model 3 worth $58,200 and placed a $2,500 down payment, and then arranged an automatic monthly payment plan.
A few days post-delivery, the bank rejected his transfers but it was already too late. Gonzalez sold the EV to a used car dealership for $42,500 and walked away. In short, he took advantage of a loophole where Tesla allowed a customer to take delivery before the bank transfers were cleared. Gonzalez celebrated his success by doing the whole thing again, this time with a $144,000 Model X. He later sold it on Craigslist for $90,000.
His third attempt involved another Model X, the one that met its sad demise on the lake. Although he managed to acquire the SUV, Tesla didn't give him the paperwork necessary for registration.
Fearing the worst, he drove it to Vermont's Shelburne Bay and torched it. And then he filed an insurance claim over the loss, which was later denied. And he didn't stop there. He made two more Model X purchases and managed to sell one for $99,400 but the fifth attempt ended in failure. Tesla realized it didn't receive full payment so it sent the repo man, who found the Model X hidden in a storage garage.
Gonzalez fled but was caught about seven months later. The feds have now charged him with five counts of possessing and selling stolen vehicles and remains in jail - at least until a hearing next week. He could face up to 10 years in prison for each count.