Got Ferrari taste but a Toyota budget? No problem. The good people at Super Replicas, a Panama-based company that purports to sell perfect supercar knockoffs, will gladly take your money.
But will you ever see your vehicle?
Is the Pope a Muslim?
The car site Jalopnik published an investigation of Super Replicas today. Jalopnik writer Patrick George, digging his way through the murk and the often confounding digital fingerprints left behind by Super Replicas and its founder, Daniel John Seppings, discovered that
Seppings is an Australian-born Mormon who has broken away from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and started his own extremist religious movement. He was apparently kicked out of the United States for immigration reasons, charged and acquitted of child sex crimes in Honduras, used a number of aliases over the years, and has been accused of running other scams in Central America, according to a Honduran newspaper report.
Jalopnik says that even by the standards of the Mormon Church, Seppings is a big fat phony, though the man himself has claimed to be an honest-to-God prophet.
Seppings’ views are far outside those shared by mainstream Mormons. He writes that he believes he is the prophet of some kind of “true church” and likens himself to numerous Biblical figures, complete with miracles and natural disasters and everything.
And now, it appears that he’s in Panama, hawking knockoff supercars that never get delivered to the people who send them money and claiming that Top Gear USA host Tanner Foust is the CEO of his business. (Spoiler alert: He isn’t.)
Seppings has led a colorful life in more ways than one. He’s a known bigamist (and we all know how much the Mormon church abhors bigamy). He was involuntary committed to a mental institution for a while, though it’s not clear if this occurred before or after he began likening himself to several Biblical figures.
In the nineties, Seppings traveled from Australia to the U.S., proselytized on Indian reservations, openly denounced Mormon leaders while still preaching tenets of the Mormon faith, and spent a short time in jail for trespassing while “sharing testimony” at a Mormon chapel on a Hopi reservation. Immigration officials kicked him out of the U.S. in 1999, says Jalopnik.
The way Seppings tells it, the Mormon god
sent me on the two wings of a great eagle to Honduras, where I would be protected from the dragon.
According to a Honduran newspaper account, Seppings, while presenting himself as a Mormon missionary, started several questionable business initiatives in his adopted country. One apparent scam involved offering an outsized salary to thousands of low-qualifications job applicants, provided they paid the blue-eyed gringo an application fee first. The jobs never materialized.
What’s more, Honduran cops soon learned that Seppings had molested two underage girls in El Paraiso, and he was arrested and charged with sexual assault.
It’s not quite clear how he beat the rap, but five years ago, maybe more, Seppings set up shop in Panama. His new line of business: selling “perfect replicas” of million-dollar supercars at “a fraction of the price of the originals.” For instance, his company, Top Gear, promises to custom-build a 1,100-horsepower Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport Vitesse (a car whose original has a price tag of about $2.6 million) for just $49,000.
Part of Seppings’
genius chutzpah is that he’s not afraid to lie big. Though his business has a shingle on the net at www.topgeartvseries.com, the BBC and the makers of the famous British automotive TV show Top Gear have precisely zero to do with the Panamanian ripoff artist.
Likewise, don’t be deceived by the fact that Seppings has shamelessly and illegally copied the U.K. car show’s logo, and uses it to enhance his non-existent credibility.
Clearly, the man has a profit motive, not a prophet motive.
Speaking of prophesies, I can safely foretell this: Considering the crowd-sourced sleuthing at both Jalopnik and Scams Online, people who try to buy a knockoff car from a knockoff Mormon might end up not being impressed by Mr. Seppings’ overall godliness.
[image via Jalopnik]