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Tesla driver sentenced after Model S snitches on fake 'carjacking' claim

The man claimed a stranger stole and crashed his Tesla on Sea-to-Sky Highway near Lions Bay. But car's sensor data revealed his lies.
A former North Vancouver man has been fined over $5,000 for reporting false information about a “carjacking” near Lions Bay in July 2020. | ThinkStock

A former North Vancouver man who crashed his Tesla on the Sea-to-Sky Highway and then lied to police, telling them he had been carjacked has been handed a $5,750 fine and told to pay back almost $1,300 for towing and storage of his vehicle.

Arya Forouzandeh, 35, was handed the sentence after pleading guilty in North Vancouver Provincial Court, Aug. 24 to one charge of providing false information under the Insurance Vehicle Act. A criminal charge of reporting an offence when it was not committed was stayed by the Crown.

Crown counsel Kevin Masse said Forouzandeh’s Tesla Model S was reported abandoned on the highway near Lions Bay at around 3 a.m. on July 12, 2020.

The vehicle had collided with a concrete barrier, scraping the passenger side of the car and causing the front passenger wheel to fall off. The car’s airbag had also gone off in the crash.

Police who found the vehicle and tracked the owner registration to Forouzandeh and tried to call him, said Masse, but received no answer.

Man told RCMP he was carjacked

Soon after, however, Forouzandeh called 911 to report that he had been carjacked and had to walk to Horseshoe Bay for help. Squamish RCMP towed the car for forensic examination, said Masse, while North Vancouver RCMP officers were sent to talk to Forouzandeh.

He told police he had been driving back from Squamish around 1 a.m. when he saw a man at the side of the road, waving his hands.

When he stopped, Forouzandeh said the man got into his car and told him to “give him everything and move.” Forouzandeh described the man as looking “Mexican” and being scrawny with long curly hair. He told police he gave the man his phone and Apple watch and he drove off south in the Tesla while Forouzandeh walked to Horseshoe Bay and called a cab.

Squamish RCMP officers had doubts about the story, however, and called Tesla to find out if the vehicle itself could contain any clues about what happened. The officer later learned that Forouzandeh had also reported the alleged "carjacking" to ICBC, the court heard.

Later, Forouzandeh and his girlfriend attended the Squamish RCMP detachment to give statements, where Forouzandeh repeated his carjacking story, this time describing the carjacker as “fat” and having a short beard with some white hair in it.

A police sketch artist created a portrait based on Forouzandeh’s description, said Masse, but no suspects were ever identified.

Squamish RCMP retrieve sensor data from Tesla

Meanwhile, police investigators had extracted a USB drive from the vehicle, which contained information about the Tesla’s movements prior to the crash. Sensor data showed that the vehicle had been driven from Squamish to the site of the crash without stopping, said Masse, and that nobody else had entered the car at any point in that journey.

“Therefore, the carjacking described by the accused could not have occurred,” he said.

The data indicated the Tesla had accelerated to a high rate of speed before the crash, he said.

Forensic evidence also revealed the DNA on the airbag that deployed on the driver’s side was Forouzandeh’s, he added.

Forouzandeh’s lies led to a waste of numerous police resources, said Masse.

Man also refused breath sample in separate incident

In the same court appearance, Forouzandeh also received a $3,900 fine and a one-year driving ban for refusing to give a breath sample when stopped by police on St. Andrews Avenue in North Vancouver on Feb. 27, 2022.

Police had stopped Forouzandeh for driving his Tesla with no lights on at night. But when officers approached the vehicle, he smelled of alcohol and gave unintelligible answers to questions, said Masse.

When officers asked for a breath sample, Forouzandeh replied, “No, no. Not doing it.”

He then became aggressive, swearing at police and punched one officer twice in the chest, the court heard.

“It took multiple officers to gain control of him and put him in the back of the police car,” said Masse.

Forouzandeh’s lawyer Tony Tso said his client has “struggled with impulsivity throughout his life” but has sought counselling since the incidents and moved away from North Vancouver.

In handing down his sentence, Judge Joseph Galati told Forouzandeh the joint submission from Crown and defence lawyers was “very lenient.”

“You’re getting a break,” he said, adding, “Matters could have been a whole lot worse.”

The problem with lying is “once you start down the path of lying, you have to continue down that path,” he warned.