When we began our investigation into Super Replicas, the Panama-based company promising perfect supercar replicas starting at Toyota Corolla prices while using fake celebrity endorsements, one of our biggest questions was this: Who are the people behind this company? Who makes their laughable YouTube videos? Who builds the websites that promise almost any supercar you want for under $50,000? Now, having secured their business registration documents in Panama, we know the truth. And the story of the man behind Super Replicas is far more bizarre than we could have ever imagined.
A search through the Registro Público de Panamá (after being tipped off by Jalopnik by Panama-based journalist Okke Ornstein, who also covered this issue on his blog Bananama Republic) reveals three companies operated by the same cast of characters: Super Replicas Reloaded Corporation, Superreplicas World S.A., and Top Gear Racing. The first two were registered in 2008, and the latter was registered late last year. On both documents we see Rither Sanchez, the bald man in many a Super Replicas/Top Gear video, who is listed as either treasurer or secretary of the businesses.
This also implies that these aren’t just two separate companies, as claimed by Ken Scott, the Australian representative I reached last week when I called their “New York” office — the one we couldn’t find when we went to the address they list online.
But the person listed as either president or vice president of those companies is a man named Daniel John Seppings. We started researching Seppings and his background to try and learn more about Super Replicas.
And that’s when things got really weird.
Meet The Prophet
Based on the trail he has left across the Internet over the last 15 years or so, 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.
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.)
It’s hard to come up with an accurate biographical picture of Seppings. Much of what’s out there was either written by him on his now-ancient Tripod and GeoCities websites, and thus should be taken with a grain of salt for obvious reasons, or can only be found in foreign newspapers like Honduras This Week which have covered his legal problems.
Seppings claims on his rambling, strangely-written Tripod page — copyrighted in 2004 but possibly written earlier than that — that he was born in Australia on Dec. 16, 1966. When he was a baby his family converted to Mormonism after meeting with missionaries from the U.S. He writes that he left school at age 15, became a carpenter, and eventually married and had five daughters.
In 1994, around the time of the death of Mormon Church president Ezra Taft Benson, Seppings claims he began experiencing visions that convinced him the modern Mormon church had “fallen into apostasy” and that he was a kind of prophet “who would lead and direct Israel in these last days.”
This literally happened when Ezra Taft Benson gave me the keys in Australia and then Christ commanded me to bring the true, original Gospel that was not corrupted by capitalism, to the remnant of Jacob, the Lamanites here in the Americas.
Sharing these beliefs, Seppings writes, led to his involuntary commitment to a mental institution and ultimately his separation from his wife and family. His views reinforced by another Mormon who lived with him for some time from the U.S., Seppings eventually left Australia, and while enduring trials in which he likens himself to several Biblical figures, made his way to Utah in 1995.
I told Sandra [ed. note: Seppings’ wife] that it was confirmed to me that the Church was in apostasy and that my manifestation of Jesus Christ was of God and that he commanded me that I should leave Australia because soon judgment was going to come upon this land, of fire and brimstone, and I had to flee from the wickedness that Australia had become.
There, he writes that he couch surfed for a while, hung out on Indian reservations proselytizing to people, grew a beard, protested Mormon leaders Salt Lake City and Brigham Young University and “testified” wherever he could, occasionally running into trouble with the law and spending time in jail for trespassing while "sharing testimony" at a Mormon chapel on a Hopi reservation.
He traveled to New York and Missouri, married a woman (though not legally) and had another child, and eventually drew the ire of immigration officials who ordered him out of the U.S. in 1999.
A search of public records identified Seppings' 1999 court case against the INS. His Kansas City attorney in that case did not return a call for comment.
All the while, Seppings claimed persecution from the Mormon church and from the government, who he says saw him as a threat. He even claims that an earthquake occurred during one of his immigration hearings in Kansas City as part of a prophecy from Revelations.
These were all prophesies being fulfilled from the Book of Revelation 12:13-17, after the woman had brought forth a man-child, the serpent cast out of its mouth water as a flood of lies to destroy the Lord's anointed and cast him out, but the earth helped the Lord's anointed and opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood, which the dragon cast out of his mouth. The earth opening represents the Book of Mormon coming out of the earth and the truth revealed to the judge proving the falsity of the accusers testimonies, and in so doing, sent me on the two wings of a great eagle to Honduras, where I would be protected from the dragon.
“The ‘Gringo’ Had Tricked Them”
That “great eagle” was an Immigration and Naturalization Services plane that dropped Seppings off in Honduras.
According to this 2001 article from newspaper Honduras This Week, Seppings set himself up as a kind of “missionary” there and also used the names David Seppings and Daniel Frank. The newspaper said he angered local authorities when he attempted to start “a religious project called Project 2000 Zion Community, which he hoped to extend throughout Latin America in the future.”
The newspaper says he started an illegally-constituted organization called “Cristiana Americana Humanitaria Ayuda” that promised jobs in the U.S. and Canada to rural Hondurans. From the paper:
He also took out classified ads in the daily La Tribuna, requesting security guards and offering salaries between Lps. 5,000 and Lps. 16,000 a month. La Tribuna correspondent Luis Alonso Gomez told HTW that he found the offer rather exorbitant, considering that in the country's main cities security guards generally earn no more than Lps. 3,000 a month if employed by private security firms. If self-employed, salaries for watchmen are often even less.
But when people began coming to his office to inquire about the jobs, word spread that Seppings was actually running a scam, leading to police having to rescue him from an angry mob.
Word that the "gringo" had tricked them and that they were about to be the victims of a collective swindle spread quickly (he was going to request Lps. 200 for each job applicant). The meeting ended abruptly with the arrival of the police, who took Seppings away before he was mobbed. In the end, the campesinos left empty-handed and confused.
This led to an investigation of his organization by Honduran government officials, and later, criminal charges that he had sexual relations with two girls, aged 12 and 15, the newspaper said. He was also under investigation for other possible felonies, the newspaper reported.
Once again, Seppings claimed that the government wanted him out of their country because he was about to reveal their corruption.
Honduras This Week also goes into several incidents conveniently left off Seppings’ own autobiography: that the mother of his child in the U.S. applied for his residency, only to have it turned down when immigration officials learned he was still married in Australia.
They reported that Seppings was arrested in April 1999 in Missouri for disrupting a church service while threatening people with a pellet gun and claiming that he was Jesus Christ. The story also says that after leaving the U.S., he spent some time in Mexico where he made up business cards that said he was the project manager of a fictional organization called American Social and Welfare Services that he said was based in Missouri.
While in Latin America Seppings authored several books, newspaper-like publications and pamphlets that railed against the International Monetary Fund, the “fascist regime of the New World Order” in the U.S. One of those publications was called The Evening and Morning Star, which shares its name with an early Mormon newspaper from the 1830s.
At least one article from Seppings’ publication exists on the Internet, and it says that he was found not guilty of statutory rape in Honduras at some point.
It does not go into detail about why he was acquitted, but it does paint Seppings as a noted humanitarian who has stood up to corruption in Honduras, exploitation of the poor, the IMF and the CIA, and the church who he says has attempted to smear his good name.
Once more, we see similar themes emerge in Seppings’ tales about himself. He is a hero, a prophet, a leader, the savior of the poor and the repressed, and those who criticize him — or dare to prosecute him — are corrupt and in league with powerful forces like the CIA and the “New World Order.”
Daniel, Tony, John Or Ken?
It's not known exactly when Seppings arrived in Panama. If Super Replicas' business filings are any indicator, he's been there at least five years now.
How do we know that this Daniel John Seppings, self-proclaimed prophet of God’s true church, is the same guy who wants to sell you a perfect Lamborghini clone for $38,000 that looks suspiciously identical to someone else's actual Lamborghini?
In our first Super Replicas story, we spoke to Don Ray Williams, the American retiree who lives in Panama and took a tour of the Super Replicas shops with an Australian-born employee named Tony Sinclair for his blog, Chiriquí Chatter.
Sinclair promised to show Williams completed replica cars but never did. (Sinclair’s name does not appear on any of the Super Replicas business registration documents.)
"Tony Sinclair" has occasionally chimed in on various websites to defend Super Replicas from the people who accused them of being frauds and thieves. On this website, he offers a very curious response to one allegation of theft in which he seems to appeal to scripture as a way of dissuading an angry customer from suing him:
There also seems to be many examples in your Book of Mormon of the Nephites falling into apostasy because of this grievous sin and the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith about this subject seems to also point out that the Melchizedek priesthood holders are to be forgiving and turn the other cheek which is a light to the world and example of the LDS faith, but we have been under fierce attacks from our competition and they have tried all manner of ways to prevent our clients from paying the balance of their outstanding accounts...
The individuals have caused the loss of millions of dollars in sales for Super Replicas as new customers have read these false allegations and were turned off from us. We are suing the one offender for damages at this time and will seek others unless you recommend us that it is wrong according to the teachings of Mormon prophet Gordon B. Hinckley I will kindly recommend his righteous example and we will back off as well but I do need your inspiration and leadership example on this issue please Mark.
Not only does “Sinclair’s” response go into an unprompted diatribe about Mormon theology, written in a style and syntax very similar to the writings on Seppings’ websites, it also echoes the same themes. Super Replicas is completely legitimate, he says — they’re just being slandered and defamed by invisible persecutors who seek to destroy them.
In addition, Williams recently updated his blog to say that the man he knew in Panama as Tony Sinclair is identical to the photos Seppings posted to his own websites.
Williams wrote that he is certain they are the same person:
Indeed, the photo that Bananama Republic included (of Daniel John Seppings) was the person that represented himself to me as Tony Sinclair. The photo is a younger version, but no question, that is the fellow I talked to.
I wonder why the director of a reputable business would represent himself by a different name?
I called Ken Scott, the Australian "Top Gear" rep who claimed to be based out of New York, the one who went on a lengthy rant about imperialism, 9/11 and the CIA when I contacted him for the original story.
I asked Ken who Daniel Seppings is, and why he's listed on their business documents.
"I know nothing about that," he told me. "I don't know who that is. That may be another company... I suppose what you need to do is contact Super Replicas. You would have to talk to Tony Sinclair about that."
Indeed I would.
Ken tried to tell me in an email that Daniel Seppings is in fact a UK-based journalist who started another replica company with Rither Sanchez called Extreme Replicas, one that looks exactly like a Super Replicas site — complete with their name and logo. Ken said he had nothing to do with that.
Since Ken was the guy who insisted that Tanner Foust was CEO and shareholder of his company, even after I explained that Foust said he was not, I have a hard time believing anything he says.
Don Ray Williams later emailed us to say that someone with the name "John" posted comments on his blog about Super Replicas; here is part of what he wrote.
Super Replicas seems to be targeted and are becoming victims of this perversion. Some claim that neoliberalism is a form of corporatocracy, the rule of a country by and for the benefit of large corporations. Since large corporations tend to fulfill all the conditions of a wealthy entity, they accrue many of the same benefits over smaller businesses.
The most blatant form of crony capitalism is the creation of a liberal economic system in which only some people (“cronies”) are permitted corporation´s rights by the government using dirty tactics and bribery, allowing supporters of the government to expropriate any capital held by opponents.
If you've been following this saga for a while, his language should strike you as very familiar.
"John" also posted another comment identical to the email "Ken" sent me about Daniel Seppings being a British journalist.
I'd guess that Ken Scott, Tony Sinclair and "John" are all the same person: Daniel Seppings.
It's unknown how many followers, if any, Seppings has amassed over the years in his ongoing attempt to exalt himself as a prophet. It's also hard to say whether he actually believes any of the things he has written, or if it's all part of a con he's been running for years.
If you have considered buying a car from Super Replicas — if you have considered letting them fulfill your dream of supercar ownership at unbelievably low prices — then this appears to be the person you are giving your money to.