Vermont Man Gets Prison For Tesla Scam

Estimated read time 2 min read

34-year-old Michael Gonzalez of Shelbourne, Vermont is going to have 48 months of time to think about how he scammed Tesla out of five vehicles. The man was given his prison sentence along with three years of supervised release after as well as paying Tesla back $493,043.93 plus forfeiting $231,900.

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Back in 2018 and 2019 Gonzalez got a bright idea to reserve five new Teslas at $2,500 each. He then initiated wire transfers from his bank account for the full value of each EV, even though the man knew full well he didn’t have the funds for those to go through.

Still, Tesla, was deceived into believing the man had paid in full for the cars, delivering two cars to him while Gonzalez personally picked up three from the automaker.

Normally, a story like this would then involve selling the Teslas on the black market or maybe the automaker realizing what happened and remotely shutting them down. Instead, Gonzalez was able to craft some lies that fooled the Vermont DMV so he was able to get titles for three of the vehicles, allowing him to sell those rides legitimately.

However, he wasn’t able to get a manufacturer’s certificate of origin necessary for obtaining a title for the fourth Tesla, Gonzalez allegedly decided to dispose of it. After driving it out onto a frozen lake in Vermont, authorities say he lit the EV on fire, burning it to the ground. However, Gonzalez said it just caught fire when he drove it for a night ice fishing trip. Afterward, he tried collecting the full value of the vehicle from his insurance.

This is one of the more creative car scams we’ve seen recently. How exactly he talked the DMV into titling those three Teslas isn’t clear. We also aren’t sure how Tesla didn’t just shut the cars down once it realized the guy never paid for them.

Read the US Attorney’s Office official press release about Gonzalez’s sentencing here.

Image via Twitter/X

Steven Symes

Steven Symes is an accomplished automotive journalist with a passion for all things related to cars. His extensive knowledge and love for the automotive world shine through in his writing, which covers a diverse range of topics.

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