As more light has been shed on Super Replicas, the Panama-based corporation that claims to sell perfect supercar replicas on the cheap and is notorious for its laughable YouTube videos, false claims of celebrity endorsements and its shady religious fanatic founder, the company has responded with legal threats befitting their bizarre nature.
None of these threats, so far, have been against Jalopnik after our series of stories looking into the company and the people behind it. Instead they have been made against Don Ray Williams, the American retiree who lives in David, Panama and runs the blog Chiriquí Chatter.
Williams was one of the first people to write about Super Replicas back in 2008 when an potential American buyer asked him to look into the company. He never saw the completed cars promised by Super Replicas founder "Tony Sinclair" (which he and Jalopnik believe to be a pseudonym used by the man who is really behind the company, Daniel John Seppings).
We interviewed Williams for our original story on Super Replicas, and since then he has authored another blog post about the company. This led to some rather interesting comments on his blog from a fellow who used the name "John." Here, we see the same kind of strange, rambling, other-people-blaming style of writing that permeated Seppings' personal websites.
He starts by calling one of the people who accused Super Replicas of taking his money (Jalopnik has reached out to this person, but has not heard back) of working for a rival company and being in league with some Mormon enemy of Seppings. And then "John" defends Seppings' use of multiple names using, you guessed it, the Bible. Because of course he did.
Why is Seppings using a stage name? the same reason most people who want to change their names for descretion. Is this a sin? is this wrong?
We do live in a period of time when the internet freedom of speech has given room for Trolls to slander people and companies names. If you tell a lie long enough the people will start to believe it so giving no chance for a company to succeed.
Lamborghini and Ferrari are also very angry at replica kit companies and would like to shut them down too so if Seppings turns out to be a Robin Hood for the poor then he will have a lot of adversary.
Talking about hiding under a different name didn't Jacob in the Bible pretend to be his brother and lied to deceive his father for an inheritance? Also Joseph of Egypt pretended to be someone else to hide himself from his brothers, so I suppose Seppings is using examples in the Bible to justify being a Robin Hood.
See? He's a Robin Hood figure, who robs from the rich and gives to the poor. Just like in the Bible! And he tops the comment off with remarks about America's corrupt "corporatocracy," not unlike Seppings' other writings or the rant I heard from the Australian fellow who called himself Ken Scott and answered the New York number listed on their website — and who is possibly Seppings himself.
Then "John" tries to say that Seppings is really a British journalist in a piece of text identical to what Ken Scott emailed me last week.
Later in the comments, we have the legal threats against Williams:
Dear Donald Raymond Williams address ciudad de David province of Chiriqui Republic of Panama.
There is some legal issues you may want to consider regarding this matter. I have found a large amount of resources regarding the usage of the blog.
I understand you have made some fame and it may not be by legal measures.
I believe you are well respected in Chiriqui as an elderly citizen and a foreigner to Panama. Rither Sanchez and others involved in the SR junta directiva may take legal action and it might not be on your best interests to encourage defamation of charactor on your blog.
Cyber bullying on any social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and youTube all ban cyber bullying and cyber bullying is illegal.
What is Cyber bullying?
He then goes on to explain what "cyber bullying" is using text copied from an Australian website. Go figure.
"John" claims that Williams, as an American expat, has fewer rights than Panamanians do in court and that his blog has come to the attention of a "Panamanian government official share holder." If that person is real, I would love to know who they are. He implores Williams to take down his blog posts about Super Replicas.
A few comments down, "John" adds this gem:
The Panamanians who value their employment with Super Replicas and also those Panamanian investors that wants to see Super Replicas develop for the benefit and welfare of many Panamanians. The new opportunities that SR Company seeks to create for youth to become apprentices and employment for the new engineers is the reasons why this blog should remove all the articles posted to create hate and disappointment. Let’s ask that the retired Americans come to Chiriquí to encourage the Panamanian youth to seek for skills to become responsible, to earn an honest living from working in the car plant of Super Replicas.
You see? Super Replicas is a job creator! They're the real heroes in all of this. It's the neoliberal corporations and the CIA who are trying to keep them down.
I have combed through all of Jalopnik's stories about Super Replicas and have found no comments from their people refuting our work.
That's kind of disappointing. I was hoping they would start their own Kinja account.
Towards the end of the comment threat on Williams' websites, Panama-based journalist Okke Ornstein, who has also written about Super Replicas on his blog Bananama Republic, chimes in with an interesting point:
Dear “John”, let me give you some quick legal advice, because I’ve been through this a number of times already. First, if you want to sue on behalf of your company, it needs to be a civil suit because a corporation does not have honor that can be criminally offended under Panamanian law. A civil suit takes forever and won’t go anywhere unless you can show – as in, prove – real damages. There are no real damages because your whole outfit isn’t real to begin with. So scrap that.
You might of course file a criminal complaint because you think your personal honor has been offended, but be warned that you would have to do so under your real name, not “John” or “Scott” or “scam priest” or anything like that. And then I will cover that case intensively on my blog, every step of the way, and more and more people will start digging into your affairs and background and eventually you’ll lose.
And he's right. Assuming the courts in Panama work the way they're supposed to — and that's a big assumption to make, as corruption is a known issue in that country — a court case would bring all of Super Replicas' dealings to light. At this point, isn't that something all of us would love to see?
As for Williams, he says he has no plans to take his blog posts down. We'll stay on top of this to see where it goes next.