UPDATED BELOW - Fascinating read on the Jalopnik car blog, about a company called "Super Replicas", which purports to manufacture replicas of really fancy and expensive cars in Panama. Except that they don't. Read it, here's part one, and part two.
We knew already that almost everything swanky and luxurious in Panama is fake. Fake Burj al Arab hotel recycled into a Trump club. Fake screwdriver buildings. Fake glass dildos. And so on. However, with the supercars, even the fakes are fake. They don't exist!
Jalopnik lists a long parade of wackiness typical for the kind of scams one finds in the Nigeria of Central America, from fake interviews with Steven Spielberg to fake pictures, fake famous car people like Tanner Foust being involved, and of course the fake ties with the real Top Gear, a hugely popular automotive TV show from the BBC.
When confronted with inconsistencies in their offerings and claims, a guy called Scott gives the typical reply we've come to know so well from Panamanian shysters:
I told Scott I had a hard time believing any of this, and that the photos they show online appear to be those of actual supercars, not replicas.
His response was a lengthy diatribe on a variety of topics, including how the Bush administration committed war crimes after 9/11, how the FBI and CIA keep international businesses from growing, how "most Americans know" that John F. Kennedy wasn’t really killed by a lone gunman, and how I, as a journalist, should be exposing the American politicians who he said authorize soldiers to murder babies instead of going after a small business like Super Replicas and “Top Gear.”
“America is just one big lie,” Scott said. “If you really believe that bin Laden blew up the Twin Towers, then you’re not a very good journalist ... It’s guys like you that help them crush the little fish.”
The “little fish,” he said, is Super Replicas and Top Gear, which he claims are honest businesses that help working people afford the cars of their dreams. And the people who say Super Replicas took their money? Just trolls, that's all.
Jalopnik asked the automotive hustlers for proof that they were really building cars, and in return they sent a picture of one of the principals, who goes by the name of Rither Sanchez (anyone know who this clown really is?), next to what is supposedly a replica of an orange Lamborghini. Hecho en Panama! Turns out that it is indeed a replica, but built by MC Customs in Miami - a real company and unrelated to the Panama fraud.
Most other pictures they use on their sites and in their weird videos are in fact the real cars, or replicas made by other companies.
Did people lose money with this scam? There are claims floating around on the interwebs to that effect.
We tried looking up the company in the Panamanian Public Registry but, as so often happens, their system didn't work. UPDATE: We found the documents, superreplicas and topgearracing. And now it gets interesting, because here's a quote from the Jalopnik article:
He promised me that the naysayers are just trolls set up by competitors and actual car companies whose business is threatened by Super Replicas. He said we couldn’t find their office because they meet with people “by appointment only,” and happen to be booked solid through May. And he insisted that Tony Sinclair and Rither Sanchez have nothing to do with “Top Gear,” which he said is the New York business he works for. “I can’t tell you you who he is, or what he is,” Scott said.
But if you look at the files from the registry, they have the same directors! (/ENDUPDATE)