An admin on subreddit r/TeslaMotors is being taken to court for his comments on various forums.
The binder containing Saleen’s injunction against Reddit user FredTesla that was allegedly delivered to his home in Canada earlier this week. (Image: Indiegogo/frederic.c.lambert)
Saleen Automotive, a company known for its customized versions of sports cars, is trying to take an online detractor to court for posting thousands of comments accusing it of being a scam.
The company is known for using body kits and performance upgrades to tune up and resell a variety of car models, including its Saleen Tesla, which is a modified Tesla Model S.
Reddit user FredTesla, whose real name is Frederic Lambert, is a moderator on the subreddit forum r/TeslaMotors. On Reddit, his own website, and other forums like InvestorsHub, he has posted more than 1,000 comments under various aliases, according to Saleen's investigation cited in the affidavit, accusing the company of deliberately scamming customers.
He posted on Reddit earlier this week that due to these comments, he was served a "motion to institute proceedings for interlocutory and permanent injunction" from Saleen at his home in Canada.
"I never thought I'd be lucky enough to one day have my reddit comments delivered at my house in a nice binder, but that's what happened today!" he wrote. "In short, they claim that my posting on various websites and blogs were defamatory and impacted negatively Steve Saleen's reputation AND 'impacted the trading volume and price of Saleen Automotive's stock.'"
Lambert had accused Saleen of orchestrating a pump-and-dump scheme, a form of stock fraud where the company encourages people to buy shares through false advertising and then sells off its stocks when the prices are high.
"SLNN is a scam and has always been a scam," he once wrote on InvestorsHub, according to the affidavit.
He also claims the company is not using the money customers give it to build cars, but for operating expenses, relying on more deposits to build the cars customers paid for.
"Saleen is taking deposits from customers, but they don't use the money to build cars or at least only a fraction of the money, therefore they always depends on more people giving deposits, but if they all come back wanting their cars, Saleen doesn't have the money to build them - not unlike a ponzi scheme," he wrote on Reddit.
According to the defamation lawsuit, which Jalopnik posted in full, Saleen said Lambert has been "posting defamatory comments" on various websites that have adversely affected Saleen's reputation and even its stocks.
"It is of the utmost importance that his Honourable Court urgently and permanently orders Mr. Lambert to halt this outrageous and unjustifiable behaviour, which continues unabated," Saleen said.
Steve Saleen told Jalopnik in an email the company believe the comments go beyond the scope of free speech and constitute defamation.
"This lawsuit has nothing to do with Tesla or any other opinions and comments regarding our products," he said. "Under Canadian law, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and may voice same, as long as it is not done in a defamatory fashion. I understand the extent of one's freedom of speech and of opinions, but we can no longer tolerate to be the object of such defamatory comments which are not protected by freedom of speech."
Lambert once said on the forum he has "no financial interest" in Saleen's stock, but got involved because of some "bad actors" around the company. He mentioned in one post that Saleen was under investigation by the SEC, an allegation Saleen denied in the affidavit.
Lambert said he will fight the charges and has set up an Indiegogo fund to help with his legal funds. Motherboard has reached out to both Lambert and Saleen and will update the story if they reply.