Accused International crime-kingpin Alexander Surin's new nickname is "Don Car-leone" after his arrest included the seizure of millions of dollars in exotic cars. That nickname's different than his secret forum screenname we found flaunting his automotive collecting prowess. UPDATE.
Surin was arrested by Spanish authorities and extradited to France in September, leading authorities to seize the following vehicles from Switzerland and the United Kingdom. These vehicles represent what they now believe is only part of his amazing collection:
Bugatti Veyron (x2): $1,680,000 ($3,360,000)
Enzo Ferrari (x2): $613,000 ($1,226,000)
Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé: $491,000
Rolls-Royce Phantom: $421,500
Ferrari 599 GTB: $318,000
Ferrari California: $220,000
Porsche 911 GT3: $125,000
The collection inspired one Interpol source to tell The Sun:"It's absolutely incredible. Never mind the Godfather's Don Corleone - he is Don Car-leone."
One would expect a lifestyle like Alexander Surin's to stand out. But despite jet-setting around Europe for his "business," which, according to European police, most certainly included organized crime and drug-running, and amassing a collection of some of the most expensive exotic cars in the world, Surin supposedly lived a very quiet public life. Police claim he drove a "humble banger" around England rather than one of his fleet of exotic cars and never flaunted his amazing ill-gotten wealth.
That's because Surin kept his love of exotic cars hidden from the real world. Instead he chose to freely flaunt it in the digital world.
In 2006, Surin created an anonymous account on the Ferrari Chat (membership required) forum, a semi-exclusive online automotive lounge for owners and lovers of the famed Italian marque. It was there where he posted under the name "Icemanbops," a hilarious screen name given "iceman" is a slang term for a cocaine dealer. The "Bops" part is because this Alexander Surin may be Michael Boparan, a trader busted in a major customs sting in 2003 whose conviction was overturned due to a mistake on the part of the prosecution. He previously served time for masterminding an extensive identity theft ring in 1995.
Considering the secrecy with which he lived his life — police say he stashed more than $1.1 million in cash in the cars they found — the details he shared online — photos, and information about his Ferraris and about future Ferrari products — is astonishing.
It's clear in the many posts we examined on FerrariChat that Surin was seeking praise for his generosity (buying cars for his brother and wife) and also the acknowledgment of his amazing collection he couldn't get in the real world.
Most of the other forum members gave Surin platitudes:
"Congrats!! I enjoy all of your threads. Please continue to post photos of your great collection. Most of us could only dream of living the great life that you are. :)"
What a life indeed.
in hindsight, some of the comments Surin posted on the forum are extremely appropriate, including an acknowledgment of the best way to do business with a dealer:
In Europe its really a matter of getting to know your local dealer and getting a order placed.
They will always take an order with deposit, its just a matter of then opening up a dialogue to ensure you get yours as quickly as possible and then not flipping it. Once you have one on ordered and delivered the next one is much easier.
Just to let you know that Ferrari will be building a 599 GTO, it will be a strictly limited edition car, offered to invited known Ferrari owners. Will let you know as I have more details, car will be available end of this year.
Other than the timing he was completely right.
Not everyone took to "Icemanbops," who went by the name "Mike" (possibly in reference to his real name) in private conversations, mostly because there were few who believed someone could own all these cars. At one point another member calls BS on Surin's request for help in locating an Enzo, not realizing who he was dealing with.
An offended Surin responds:
No Doubt you have seen or heard it all before. I am not here to waste anyones time, I have subscribed to this forum and simply requested help from people who have a genuine interest and regard for this marque. I could buy the first and probably most expensive car offered, wouldn't make sense as its not how I run my life or my businesses. I also enjoy the hunt. (emphasis added)
No one seems to ask what his business is, and he never tells. When someone presses him later to prove after he buys the Enzo its his he says he'll do whatever it takes to prove the car is his except pose for a picture with it. "I will answer every question and pander to all requests for pics (of the car that is)!" His brother, however, he was okay with showing in pictures.
He also apparently was willing to give a ride to a member of the Detailingworld forum (where he may have used the name Tbops) in exchange for a wash-and-wax with the $2,200 Vintage Glaze car treatment. From this we've got video of the car driving around and, possibly, a bit of the alleged kingpin's voice.
Surin drops off the forums after April 2008 but returns in October to crow about the new Enzo (his second) he'd purchased. Once again he's faced with skepticism from people unaware of the type of person is on the other end of the message board. Calmly and coolly he withdraws from the forum:
I take offense in having my integrity questioned. It has been in this thread and also in the 5 yr old Lebanon Enzo thread.
I am withdrawing from F-chat as an active participant, it should be a forum that shares and involves and invokes enthusiasts of this very special marque. I have given a number of inside lines as to new cars coming into production and many insights into cars I own. However I am getting tired of defending myself, I shall just enjoy the cars I have and the many on order.
Not being too sensitive at all, just tired of it. Will just smash about in the cars from now on and keep my opinions to myself and live the dream. If you ever see me , hoot or pull up and have a chat. Take it easy
He did return, once again, to talk about his displeasure with his Ferrari California ("Even my wife won't drive it") and to share the news of his Bugatti purchases. His last post was in August 2009 and concerned with who might be the first to buy a Ferrari 458 Italia. That wasn't the last time he'd hit the FerrariChat forum. According to his profile, he last signed on March 13th at 5:46 am. He made no posting since and now has deleted his profile. Was he on the run from the cops? Did he know he was being hunted?
This is rumored to be video of Surin/Boparan himself getting out of one of his Ferrari Enzos.
A spokesperson for the SOCA (Serious Organized Crime Agency) of the British Government confirmed to Jalopnik they've "Frozen a number of properties and high-value cars as part of an ongoing civil recovery investigation." Given what's on the FerrariChat forum it's clear there's more out there.