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Vehicle fraudulently transferred out of account without permission

Naonak

Member
Dec 22, 2015
808
1,377
Kansas
Apologies for the hyperbolic title, but it's essentially what this post is about.

Some of you may remember me as the one who exposed Tesla's hidden DC Fast Charging scandal where they would limit charging rates on batteries after a set number of DC Fast Charges. See If you fast charge, Tesla will permanently throttle charging

Well, I'm back with another completely ridiculous and utterly sociopathic move by Tesla that puts every Tesla at risk from theft, tracking/stalking, or general havoc and mayhem.


I would like to preface this episode with the fact that I have tried to work with Tesla on this for about a week prior to posting this publically, but they don't even acknowledge it's a problem, much less show any interest in fixing it. They have stopped responding to me, so here I am, posting this publicly. So read on if you want to steal Elon Musks Cybertruck.

Last week I received a mysterious email from Tesla with the title "Remove Vehicle Request has been received." The content of the email was basic, it had my VIN, stock picture of my car, and the text "Model S will be removed from your Tesla app and Tesla Account in a few hours. Any active subscriptions will be cancelled (sic), any referral history will be removed."

I received this email at 17:45. I was concerned with this to say the least... I checked my app and sure enough one of my Teslas was missing from the app. They didn't even give me 10 minutes to contact them before removing it, much less "A few hours." No one ever contacted me to authorize this transfer. They just did it out of the blue. So I t tried to contact Tesla immediately. Well, I think we all know that it's difficult to actually talk to anyone at Tesla. I spent almost an hour and a half on the phone being transferred around from idiot to idiot (This was after I slogged my way through literally every option in the automated tree), and was finally told I need to email [email protected] and they'd get back to me.

Well, I did, and it took them 3 days to respond to me. During that time, I contacted my local service center and they said they have nothing to do with that and they can't help me. I tried calling everyone I could, but got nowhere.

I finally got an email back from customer support, which requested the following:
Thank you for contacting Tesla to complete an ownership transfer of your Tesla vehicle. In order to add this vehicle to your Tesla account, the following details must be provided in writing:
  • Email address of your Tesla account:
  • Full VIN:
  • Home or mailing address:
  • Phone number:
  • Was vehicle purchased from a private party or 3rd party dealership?
Please provide the following documentation as attachments to your reply verifying ownership:
  • Color photo of your current driver's license or state/province ID (name must match title or registration)
  • Color photo of your title or registration
  • If registering under a business, include your business card that includes your name and business name

I sent them all the required documents as outlined above.

A day later, I received this:
Hello!
Unfortunately we are unable to complete the ownership transfer with the documents you submitted.
We need a copy of the Title that is easily readable and a copy of the current registration. Thank you!
-Garrett
Tesla Support

Needless to say, I'm pretty pissed off at this point. As I already sent them a perfectly legible color copy of my title. Not only that, however, I sent the registration. According to their request, it's a copy of the title OR the registration and I sent them both, so even if the copy of the title was not legible (it was), they had the registration. I sent them yet ANOTHER photo of my title in full 48MP resolution.

Another day passes and I get this back from the idiots at Tesla:
We empathize for the frustration and inconvenience the situation has caused you. We want to advise that someone has reached out to Tesla, claiming they are the owner of the VIN and have provided a proof of purchase document stating you sold them this vehicle. We have confirmed with our fraud team the best course of action would be for you to file a report with law enforcement and the state of Kansas DMV. The DMV has investigators that handle situations like this. Once the investigation has been completed, and the car has been retitled if needed, or current owner documentations have been obtained, we will be able to transfer the vehicle to the rightful owner.

Best,

Ayelen C. | Account Support
12832 Frontrunner Blvd | Draper, UT 84020
Customer and Product Support | Tesla Support

I contacted my DMV. They said they don't see any requests for a retitling of the vehicle or for a new registration and the vehicle is registered to my name like it has been since I purchased it and there's nothing wrong with my ownership of the vehicle and there has been no change. No crime has been committed according to the police, so there's nothing to report, since the vehicle isn't actually stolen and it's a civil matter between myself and Tesla. I had recently requested a printed title (The state has screwed up on one of my other Teslas and took a lien off a car I had sold instead of the lien off this car, so I needed a new title printed. I had the new title issued on the 26 Aug 22, less than two weeks prior to this incident, so the title was FRESH). There was and is no "investigation" that the DMV or police can perform since there is no problem with the vehicle. I inform Tesla of this.

Another day passes and the smooth brains at Tesla respond with this mind-numbing stupidity:
I empathize with the frustration in this situation. The problem is we have two people claiming the vehicle is theirs and this new person claiming the vehicle is theirs has provided a more current bill of sale.

For us to put the car back in your name in our system, we will need you to provide something that supersedes that document provided by the other customer. We would love to help you resolve this issue as quickly as possible. In order for us to move forward with moving this VIN back to your account, you will need to provide a recent ownership document for the VIN (or recent Title). Without a recent ownership document, we will not be able to assist with moving the vehicle back into your name.

If the vehicle title has never been transferred then there may not be a need for it to be retitled, that was suggested by our fraud team in case that had also happened.

Once the documentation is received and the car is back on your account, we can then add a note to not move this vehicle out of your account.

Note how they've stopped signing their name to this complete miscarriage of justice. But I digress... So to put the car back in my name, they need a more current document than a freshly issued title and registration. Remember, my current title was issued less than two weeks ago. How much more current can it be? I don't know what documents I can provide beyond that. I asked them as much, but they have yet to answer what documents would be sufficient. Getting desperate, I decided that since they clearly accept forged Bills of Sale, I would just send them a new Bill of Sale in my name, which I did. They did not even acknowledge it.

I asked them who the other party was, but they refuse to give me any information on the party that supposedly owns my vehicle. So I have no way to contact anyone/that person. Tesla will not change the vehicle back, even though I clearly own it. It's not on my account, and I have to turn off mobile access because otherwise this anonymous individual can locate and steal things from my car or steal the whole car at any time. They can screw with me via opening windows/trunk turning on air conditioning/heater, etc... and I have NO recourse whatsoever.

I've given them since last Friday to respond, and they've gone radio silent. I can't get anyone to respond to me.

So, to you folks, I give you this gift. If you'd like to have a free Tesla, just make up a fake bill of sale and submit it to Tesla to have it transferred to your newly minted account. They will do it no questions asked. You now have access to this Tesla and you can unlock it and drive away with it. The owner can't track it, access it, nor will Tesla even tell the real owner WHO you are or where the vehicle is. You will not be able to get your vehicle back on your Tesla account, because it seems the last person to submit a fake bill of sale is now the legitimate owner as far as Tesla is concerned.

They will, though, empathize the hell out of your plight. I don't know what that's worth, but that's all you'll get.
 

Droschke

Active Member
Mar 8, 2015
3,358
5,234
Future
I thought the process is:

1 - The present owner logs into his/her Tesla account and initiates the transfer in his/her Tesla account and enters the purchaser's email
2 - Purchaser receives an email from Tesla with a link to claim the car.

So it looks like the impostor in this case must have had @Naonak 's Tesla account credentials and logged into it to initiate the process.
 

Muzzman1

Active Member
Feb 8, 2014
1,045
1,848
Los Angeles
2FA would prevent this I would imagine.
I've only read the 1st post, reading on now to see some more details.
I suspect you were phished for your credentials at some point @Naonak

Edit yes, as @Droschke mentioned, in order to initiate the transfer you need to be in the Tesla account.
Im in IT, and whenever possible I always recommend 2FA for everything.
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
20,433
51,905
Oregon
I thought the process is:

1 - The present owner logs into his/her Tesla account and initiates the transfer in his/her Tesla account and enters the purchaser's email
2 - Purchaser receives an email from Tesla with a link to claim the car.

So it looks like the impostor in this case must have had @Naonak 's Tesla account credentials and logged into it to initiate the process.
Submitting a bill of sale, and registration documents, bypasses that process.
 

Muzzman1

Active Member
Feb 8, 2014
1,045
1,848
Los Angeles
I don't think it is identity theft. It sounds like they submitted fake documents to claim ownership. (Or the VIN on their documents got messed up, but that seems unlikely since it contains a check digit.)
The transfer process starts in the app. Can't do that without app credentials.

@MP3Mike you mention above that the app process can be bypassed. This I did not know. Every time I've bought and sold a car , not from tesla, I initiated in the app.
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
20,433
51,905
Oregon
The transfer process starts in the app. Can't do that without app credentials.
True. But anyone can create a Tesla account. The current owner doesn't have to be involved in a ownership claim. Submitting documents bypasses that.

From: Tesla Account Support

1663807934053.png


It says you need access to the car and WiFi. (One of the steps is renaming the car to a specific name they provide.)

Obviously Tesla is skipping the current owner confirmation. But if you have legit looking documents that makes sense. (I've always thought that this process would be problematic. I'm surprised this is the first we have heard about abuse of it.) Tesla should really confirm ownership via DMV, but I don't know that they can really get access to that information, so this is probably the best they can do. (Well they should enforce the renaming of the vehicle to something specific to confirm it is in your possession, but that is a problem for vehicle rental apps like Turo.)
 
Last edited:

Naonak

Member
Dec 22, 2015
808
1,377
Kansas
My account credentials were not compromised and this was not initiated from within my account. Now that it's been brought up and pointed out, it makes more sense what the person on the phone told me as to why I had to email support (and I had forgotten about that and I knew I hadn't deleted anything from my account so I had totally forgotten about that part) - they basically said I could have deleted it from my account which is why it wasn't showing up (This was before I knew it had actually been fully transferred to someone else) and that they couldn't see WHY it was removed from my account. I did not remove it from my account nor initiate a transfer.

The email support also essentially confirms that it was transferred with a Bill of Sale. The person it was transferred to does not have a registration or a title, and only has a bill of sale (or similar), since I still retain the title and registration and both are current and valid. All you need is a bill of sale apparently which is good enough for Tesla.

What's really egregious here is that I provide all current ownership documents that are in date, recent, and valid, and yet Tesla still will not accept those. That is the truly mind-boggling part of this.

The very least they could have done was get my authorization or wait several days if I didn't respond to initiate the transfer. Instead it was "A few hours" and bam done.
 
Last edited:

Naonak

Member
Dec 22, 2015
808
1,377
Kansas
They can create fake title/registration documents as easily as they can create a fake bill of sale... (You can't verify watermarks/etc. on a picture of a document.)

That's actually a good point, you are correct. The fact that Tesla won't accept my documents that are less than two weeks old is just blowing my mind, especially since I bought the car directly from them. They won't tell me what documents would be sufficient, and won't even respond to me now. And they won't tell me who the person is that now "owns" my vehicle. I'm pretty speechless on how this has been handled.
 
Whoa party people... slow it down here. Are you saying that with a VIN and some fake docs, Tesla will move a vehicle to anyone's account?

Wouldn't the Bill of Sale include the seller's information?

This seems to lack even cursory fraud protection. I'm having a hard time believing that the process Tesla came up with let's the gaining party take a vehicle without the losing party's permission.

At this point, what's left for the thief to do? Just order some key cards and come pickup their car?
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
20,433
51,905
Oregon
That's actually a good point, you are correct. The fact that Tesla won't accept my documents that are less than two weeks old is just blowing my mind, especially since I bought the car directly from them. They won't tell me what documents would be sufficient, and won't even respond to me now. And they won't tell me who the person is that now "owns" my vehicle. I'm pretty speechless on how this has been handled.
You could always file for a replacement title that would come with a new date. But in Oregon that would take like a month or two to receive. (I think I can request replacement registration documents online from the Oregon DMV and they would come sooner, so I don't know if your state offers something like that.) I don't know if you went to your DMV office if they could print a letter on their letterhead stating that as of x date the vehicle is still titled/registered to you.

This should be something where you can take the car, and your title, to a local service center where a manager can look at the physical documents to verify authenticity and get it straightened out. But sadly you might be the first person suffering from this, so they don't have things figured out yet.
 
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