Tech by VICE

Elon Musk Critic Sues Tesla, Says Musk’s ‘Agents’ Hacked His Twitter

The move comes after Tesla sued someone for allegedly impersonating the company's CEO in an email.

by Joseph Cox
Nov 4 2016, 4:05pm

Photo: Dan Taylor/Heisenberg Media/Flickr/Flickr

In a bizarre series of events, a former employee of an energy sector services company has claimed that staff or "agents" from the car manufacturer Tesla hacked his Twitter account.

The complaint, reported by The Daily Kanban, is written by attorneys representing one Todd A. Katz, and oil executive, and comes after Tesla filed its own lawsuit against Katz, claiming he impersonated Telsa's CEO Elon Musk in an email.

According to the complaint, Katz runs a Twitter account with the username "@ValuationMattrs," which he's used to criticize Musk and Tesla for various things, including the company's planned merger with SolarCity Corporation, Musk's solar energy company. Indeed, much of the document rants about Musk's business decisions, before actually getting into any sort of formal allegation.

But on August 4, the day after Katz allegedly sent an email to Tesla CFO Jason Wheeler while purporting to be Musk, "Tesla and its agents, on information and belief, accessed Katz's Twitter account, @ValuationMattrs, without authorization from Katz," the complaint reads.

At 3:25 PM, a person logged into this account from an IP address used by the two Best Buy electronic stores closest to Tesla's factory in Fremont, California, which are around seven and 11 miles away respectively, according to the complaint.

As the complaint points out, both of these stores allow potential customers to handle and try out various electronic devices, including Apple iPhones, with an internet connection.

Then comes a rather magical, if not fully explained logical leap. Per the complaint:

Based on the timing of the unauthorized access of Katz's Twitter account, and on the physical proximity to the Tesla factory of the Best Buy stores that use the originating IP address, and upon information and belief, on August 4, 2016 Tesla dispatched an employee or agent from its factory to a nearby Best Buy store, in order to use a Best Buy floor sample iPhone to access Katz's Twitter account, from an IP address that did not correspond to Tesla.

This was done, supposedly, to conceal Tesla's "illegal and criminal activities."

Katz is seeking compensatory damages of at least $1 million.

"Todd Katz is perfectly capable of embarrassing himself with no help from Tesla. We did not even know that the Twitter pseudonym in question belonged to Mr. Katz," a Tesla spokesperson told Motherboard in an email.

"What we are most interested in discovering is what people or organizations collaborated with Mr. Katz in his attempt to gain information illegally from Tesla and who or what companies may have paid him to do so," the Tesla rep added. "That is of great concern to us and many members of the public."

Katz's attorney Andrew S. Cowan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.