Financial Crime: A Tesla set ablaze on an icy lake leads to jail time for Vermont man who scammed company out of 5 cars

by | Oct 13, 2023 | Stock Market

You might say his brazenness was electric. A Vermont man has been sentenced to four years in prison for duping Tesla Inc. into delivering five high-end cars to him without payment and then selling three of them at knockdown prices, pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Federal prosecutors said Michael Gonzalez, 34, of Shelburne, Vt., figured out a loophole in Tesla’s payment system that allowed him to take possession of $560,000 worth of high-end Tesla automobiles that he didn’t intend to pay for. He later sold three of the vehicles to unwitting buyers for a total of $231,900.   After Gonzalez was unable to secure the title for one of the cars, a $153,000 Tesla Model X, prosecutors said he drove the car onto a frozen section of Lake Champlain and set it on fire, then filed an insurance claim.   Gonzalez pleaded guilty to five counts of possessing and disposing of stolen vehicles in April, just days before a trial was set to begin in the case. As part of his plea deal, Gonzalez agreed to pay Tesla $493,000 in restitution and to forfeit his $231,900 in profits to the government. “Michael took full responsibility for his actions,” Gonzalez’s attor …

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