Param Sharma is an Instagram influencer from San Francisco, California, who was accused of riding in the backseat of a Tesla car with no one at the wheel.
He was arrested on Monday, May 10, 2021, by the California Highway Patrol and is accused of two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a peace officer, according to a statement from CHP.
“The California Highway Patrol (CHP) today announced it has arrested 25-year-old Param Sharma for reckless driving of a Tesla while in the backseat on Interstate 80 (I-80) in the Bay Area,” CHP wrote in a Facebook post. “Sharma was arrested without incident and booked into Santa Rita Jail on two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a Peace Officer. The Tesla was towed from the scene for evidence and this incident remains under investigation.”
Sharma flaunts his wealth on Instagram and social media, using sparkling water in a toilet and showing off Rolex watches and Cartier bracelets. MTV once called him “Instagram’s richest teen.” Digital Trends once called him “Instagram’s biggest troll.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sharma Bragged About His Tesla Rides in a Television Interview
The 25-year-old “boasted” that he went home from the jail in the backseat of a driverless Tesla as well, according to KTVU-TV.
“I’m gonna go in the back seat right now. You feel me? I’m waiting for my car to charge,” he told the television station.
He claimed he’s trying to prove a point: that driverless cars are the “way of the future,” KTVU reported.
“I’ve been brake-checked before really hard, and the car stopped. The car came to a complete stop. Elon Musk really knows what he’s doing and I think people are tripping and they’re scared,” he said.
Operating a car without a driver is illegal in California. “The autopilot is imperfect in many ways. But one of the things that could go wrong is a road hazard. He could have some debris on the road. A dog could run in front of the car. A mattress could be on the freeway. Anything is possible,” said tech expert Larry Magid to KTVU of the dangers that such a stunt presents.
2. Sharma Is an Instagram Influencer Known as ‘GoldCollarLavish,’ Bragging That He’s Rich
On Instagram, Sharma posts as “GoldCollarLavish.” He brags about how rich he is. “I’m a gold collar u a blue collar 25 left the pandemic richer than ever before,” he wrote on his Instagram page. He is 25 years old.
He posted a video about his Tesla arrest, writing, “I was Elon Musk’s first RoboTaxi passenger. It’s like the iPhone, all over again.”
He also wrote, “They threw away my last Tesla so I f***ed around and got another one” and “B**ch tell the chp I bought my license” and “I came outta the pandemic in a self driving car U blue blue collar peasants can’t understand my life.” He once recorded a rap single.
Sharma repeatedly taunts other people for not being wealthy, writing, “You guys r all cheap poor low class peasants that can’t afford lambo trucks and i11’s I purposely drive it in ur ghetto to make you feel small.”
He recently wrote, “I buy penthouses in the sky too look down on poor #onerinconhill #sanfrancisco.” He also shows off his $60,000 Rolex watch and posted a picture with money on his chest.
According to SFGate, he sometimes trashes celebrities online to get infamy. including Soulja Boy and Kim Kardashian and “once accused Rihanna of jacking his style.”
He once told Vice, “People feed off the crazy things I do, like pooping in sparkling water. I’m using wealth as comedy.” He denied to Vice that the money he posts is counterfeit. At his height, he had 400,000 followers.
3. The California Highway Patrol Received Multiple 911 Calls About Sharma
The California Highway Patrol Golden Gate Division posted about the incident on Facebook in a post titled, “CHP MADE AWARE OF AN UNUSUAL INCIDENT INVOLVING A TESLA.”
“The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has been made aware of an incident involving a man riding in the backseat of a Tesla traveling on Bay Area roadways, with no other person being seated in the driver seat. The CHP received a report of the incident as third-hand information, and it is under investigation,” the Facebook post says.
“Safety for all who share our roadways is the primary concern of the CHP. The CHP asks that if you see an unusual incident such as this occurring, that you immediately report it by dialing 9-1-1 for an officer to respond and an investigation to be conducted. The sooner the incident is reported, the better the chances of an investigation being completed. It is important to be aware of your location when calling 9-1-1 to report any suspicious activity and, if possible, provide the details about the incident as soon as possible.”
CHP posted two photos someone took of Sharma in the car.
CHP then announced that it had arrested Sharma.
“On May 10 at approximately 6:34 p.m., the CHP’s Golden Gate Division Communications Center received multiple 9-1-1 calls regarding an individual seated in the backseat of a Tesla Model 3 without anyone seated in the driver’s seat. The vehicle was reported to be traveling eastbound on I-80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge toward the city of Oakland,” the release said.
“An Oakland CHP motor officer at the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza located the Tesla, confirmed that a single occupant was seated in the backseat, and initiated an enforcement stop. The officer observed the individual move into the driver’s seat. The occupant then brought the Tesla to a stop on the shoulder of I-80 eastbound just west of Powell Street, where the officer arrested Sharma.”
4. It’s Not the First Time Sharma Was Cited for Similar Behavior; He Was Once Jailed for Selling a Stolen iPhone
CHP says that Sharma is a repeat offender.
“Prior to this arrest, members of the public had captured video of someone resembling Sharma operating his vehicle in the same reckless manner, and the CHP’s Oakland Area had cited Sharma on April 27 for similar behavior,” CHP wrote.
“The safety of all who share our roadways is the primary concern of the CHP. The Department thanks the public for providing valuable information that aided in this investigation and arrest.”
He doesn’t try to hide it; he’s shared Instagram videos showing Tesla cars driving without a driver. According to SFGate, he’s been cited in the past for reckless driving.
In 2014, MTV reported that Sharma “ended up behind bars with a 90-day sentence for selling a stolen iPhone on Craigslist.” His lawyer claimed he posted it as a favor for a friend.
5. A Classmate Recalled That Sharma Was a Thorn in Administrators’ Sides in High School
SFGate spoke to a former classmate of Sharma’s, who said he went to Albany High School in the early 2010s.
“He’s just been really kind of one of those guys who acts out, one of those guys who really needs to be the center of attention and to an extent turning dangerous or unacceptable, pretty much a constant thorn in the side of the school administration,” the classmate said to the newspaper.
Whether he is really as rich as he says and what his background is has been the subject of much Internet conjecture, wtih debunked reports that he is the son of a banking executive.