A legion of investors on Twitter are working to expose Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s business empire as a fraud, and they are trying to make his life a living hell in the process, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
A slew of anonymous investors going by names like Montana Skeptic, Machine Planet, and Latrilife have been working for years on revealing Tesla for what they believe is a scam. Their actions, which include diving headfirst into droves of research and photographing parking lots, are raising Musk’s ire.
Machine Planet, the handle behind the man who spends a lot of time scoping out parking lots holding Tesla inventory, reportedly believes Tesla is unable to sell all the vehicles that the company has so far produced. He says there are as many as 52 parking lots that are chalked full of what Machine Planet believes are unsold Tesla Model 3s, the LA Times reported Monday.
“Ten days left in the quarter, and they’re just sitting there,” Machine Planet told LA Times reporters while scoping out a parking lot in Lathrop, California. A Tesla representative told the LA Times that the lots are merely distribution points for final delivery to users as the company does not have car dealerships where such inventory can be sold. But Machine Planet and shot-sellers who bet the stock will plummet are not buying the explanation.
Machine Planet is part of a much larger group of short-sellers who connect together through a Twitter account called $TslaQ — Tesla’s stock symbol, followed by Q, a notation for a company in bankruptcy. Tesla is not bankrupt, but the Silicon Valley giant is heavily sorted. Nearly 17 percent of Tesla’s stocks is held by short-sellers, according to the LA Times.
Another short-seller who goes by the name Latrilife hired a helicopter to photograph a parking garage in Hawthorne, California, the view of which was inaccessible from the public sidewalk. “We don’t trespass,” Latrilife told a reporter. There are hundreds of Model 3s inside the lighted-up three-level parking garage. One short-seller became a legion after Musk outed him on Twitter and tried to ruin his career.
Lawrence Fossi, a self-proclaimed investment strategist known online only as Montana Skeptic, claimed in August 2018 that Musk obtained his private information after Tesla devotees doxed him and published the information online. Fossi voluntarily stepped away from publishing about Tesla to protect his employer from possible legal ramifications if Musk did decide to sue.
Musk then took his fight against these commandos a bit too far. He promised his Twitter followers in May 2018 “the short burn of the century.” He said in a tweet in August of that year that he had enough funding to take Tesla private at a premium price — $420 a share. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Musk in September 2018 for fraud, arguing that Musk was selling investors a bill of goods.
He agreed to resolve the SEC probe in October 2018 without admitting or denying wrongdoing. The plan called for Tesla and Musk to pay a combined $40 million in penalties to be distributed to affected shareholders. Regulators said he violated the agreement when he claimed that Tesla would sell 500,000 cars in 2019. Musk later corrected the tweet, saying he “meant to say” weekly production would be equal to half-a-million cars.
Tesla has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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