man wearing elon musk mask

Illustration by Max Fleishman

Incoming email from elontesla at Yahoo dot com.

An oil industry executive is being sued for an alleged attempt to steal financial secrets from Elon Musk’s car company, Tesla, Forbes reports. That would normally be boring business news, but the alleged scheme—involving the world’s worst Elon Musk impersonation—was so ham-handed that we have to cover it as comedy.

The thin ruse was uncovered when Jason Wheeler, Tesla’s CFO, got this suspicious message from “[email protected],” just after he’d delivered the company’s August earnings announcement: 

why you so cautious w Q3/4 gm guidance on call? also what are your thoughts on disclosing M3 res#? Pros/cons from ir pov? what is your best guess as to where we actually come in on q3/4 deliverables. honest guess? no bs. thx 4 hard work prepping 4 today


Oh yeah, Elon Musk definitely uses “4” and “thx” and doesn’t know what the hell is going on with his own company’s financials. Nothing weird going on here at all. 

Wheeler wasn’t fooled, and didn’t respond to “Elon” with the requested financial information, which would have constituted secrets not available to the general public. He did, however, report the email and kick off an internal investigation.

Tesla claims it traced the email to one Todd Katz, an executive of Seattle-based oil pipeline services company Quest Integrity Group. Now Katz, Quest, and 10 unidentified individuals are facing a lawsuit for (very unconvincing!) impersonation and unlawful business practices. 

Tesla is seeking to recover damages, plus legal fees and reimbursement for the cost of its investigation.

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