Top Gear supercar fraud headed by Australian scam priest

seppings-book

topgearscamHQ

UPDATE BELOW - Our story about Panama entering the automobile industry with a fake supercar replica scam prompted your Bananama Republic to further investigate.

First of all, we got the Registro Publico site to work, and found a number of corporations  registered under the various “Top Gear” and “Super Replica” names:

And these companies have a couple of things in common. First, they’re all incorporated in Chiriqui, where this outfit purportedly has a car manufacturing plant. Second, they all list one Daniel John Seppings as a director.

Who is Daniel John Seppings? Bad news, that’s what he is. Seppings is an Australian self-proclaimed religious guru – read his autobio here, if you can stomach it, that is.

After having been kicked out of the United States, Seppings lived in Honduras for some time, and got himself into some serious trouble, according to the Honduras this week under the headline, “Aussie “missionary” in jail accused of rape”:

Despite fooling local authorities and residents through an as yet unclear project, it wasn’t until a capital city daily reported his dubious activities that the police and immigration officials took action in the strange case of Australian citizen Daniel John Seppings (35).

Seppings, also known as David John Seppings and Daniel Frank, made his true intentions known in early August after having lived quietly in Honduras for a few years. Apparently, he was planning to carry out a religious project called Project 2000 Zion Community, which he hoped to extend throughout Latin America in the future.

This new chapter in Seppings’ troubled life began when he arrived as a Mormon missionary in Danli, El Paraiso department, 96 km. southeast of Tegucigalpa. A couple of months ago, he opened an office there with a sign that read “Cristiana Americana Humanitaria Ayuda” (C.A.H.A.). But the organization was not legally constituted.

seppings-bookThe blue-eyed man with curly, blond hair came with the promise of finding jobs for campesinos in the United States, Canada and in Honduras, where he intended to create large farms. Through the local media, he invited people to meet with him to obtain more details.

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.

ANGER AND CONFUSION

When the appointment date arrived, Seppings found himself amidst an impressive crowd of people who he just could not handle. After a while, some of those who came from the smaller villages of El Paraiso looking for the “American dream” became impatient.

At one point his excitement turned to fear. 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.

On Sunday, Aug. 5, Gomez wrote about the unusual event in Danli, bringing it to the attention of national authorities and the U.S. Embassy. The next day, Seppings visited the immigration office in Tegucigalpa and was ordered to remain in the facilities for investigative purposes.

SURPRISING TWIST

On Aug. 17, however, the already tangled story took a more surprising twist, as agents of the Department of Criminal Investigation (DGIC) arrested Seppings on charges of sexually assaulting two minors in El Paraiso.

According to a DGIC press release, Seppings was accused of disappearing a Danli family last year. Subsequently, authorities located the family in a sector of Jamastran Valley and learned that Seppings was having sexual relations with a 12-year-old girl of the same family.

Afterward, states the report, Seppings moved to Danli and from that point he was frequently visited by the minor and a 15-year-old cousin of the girl. Seppings used to lodge them at the El Dorado hotel and had sexual encounters with both of them.

The day he was presented to the press in Tegucigalpa, Seppings burst into tears in front of the cameras. Speaking poor Spanish, he said that everything was a “mentira” (lie).

He claimed that powerful people in the government wanted him out of the country since he was about to reveal their acts of corruption. Then, he accused the press of conspiring against him, prompted by La Tribuna’s first report.

Apparently, he was eventually acquitted of the rape charges, according to a lengthy story most likely written by himself on something called the Evening and Morning Star:

During his press conference, newly released Daniel Seppings thanks all those who stuck by him and believed his testimony of innocence after months of struggle to have his name cleared. “Justice prevails!” are the cheers of his supporters, as Seppings was found innocent of statutory rape. Seppings has served as a Mormon missionary in Honduras to aid the poor and speak against the human rights abuses taking place there. Seppings mission statement is found in the Bible, Psalms 82:2-4 .

It then goes on and on about how everything from the CIA to the New World Order had already started to conspire against him and put him in a mental asylum in Australia, from which he was released only after promising he would never speak foul about the corrupt church again. His family went into hiding and he himself went to the Americas to further God’s work on this poverty plagued continent. His date of birth, which has three times a 6 in it, destined him to become a “disturber”, or so he claims:

Seppings believes though that there is significance to his birth date and the beast 666. But he concludes that the relevance of his birth date actually proves he was predestined to be a disturber and annoyer of the anti-Christ government, as spoken of by Joseph Smith in Joseph Smith History chapter one verse 20. Joseph Smith also claimed he was predestined to be a disturber and annoyer of Babylon . Smith’s birthday is also significant to the eve of Nimrod the pagan that built the tower of Babel and forced the nations to follow his birthday the 24 th of December to always remember him. Nimrod’s custom was to put a tree in each house and decorating it with silver and gold balls according to the prophet Jeremiah 10:2-5. Also according to Joseph Smith, the true birth date of Christ is the 6 th of April.

SAINT SEPPINGS GOES SUPERCARS

It is only a small step from taking advance fees from poor Hondurans who are promised a job in the US, to taking advance fees from car aficionados who want an affordable supercar replica.

It wasn’t Patrick George of the Jalopnik blog or your Bananama Republic who first wrote about the Super Replicas case. That honor goes to Don Ray of Chiriqui Chatter, who took a tour of the David based facilities and never saw a finished car. They promised to show him one later, but that never materialized.

Don Ray’s story was then quoted on another blog, triggering tons of comments. Under the alias of “Tony Sinclair”, Daniel John Seppings posted a vast number of diatribes, again alleging conspiracies involving competitors, mormons, and disgruntled former business associates who hadn’t been paid. He also announced to sue for libel and industrial espionage – which of course never happened.

these videos prove we exist and we make concept cars. this person saying all these bad things because he hates us you can see it when he talks about us he is angry and full of lies to try and make new customers believe we are bad people.

Why all the hype about Super Replicas?

It is unfortunate that I need to write a rebuttal, but there are certain individuals posing as concerned citizens hiding their names so they can slander our company without being exposed as having a conflict of interest and also because they know posting misinformation and lies to discredit a legit company is illegal. Defamation is illegal (also called calumny, libel, slander, and vilification) is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. Slander refers to a malicious, false and defamatory spoken statement or report, while libel refers to any other form of communication such as written words or images. Most jurisdictions allow legal actions, civil and/or criminal, to deter various kinds of defamation and retaliate against groundless criticism.

And so on.

So, do we have a fraud here? Let’s see:

  • Wacky pseudo-libertarian/religious/conspiracy talk – Check;
  • Self-styled guru heads the circus – Check;
  • Promotional material is all fake, fraudulent misrepresentations – Check;
  • No actual product ever delivered – Check;
  • Offers too good to be true – Check;
  • Exposure and complaints are met with threats of legal action – Check;
  • Principals have checkered and/or criminal past – Check;
  • Corporate shell game in jurisdiction that allows anonymity – Check;
  • Fake offices – Check;
  • Principals use pseudonyms to disseminate disinformation and/or hide from public scrutiny – Check;

This whole Super Replica business is a fraud and racketeering charge waiting to happen. Will Mr. Seppings be safe in Panama when the moment comes and Babylon, so to speak, catches up with him? It’s not for nothing that so many shysters hang out in Chiriqui – it’s a short dash across the border in case of trouble.

UPDATE: Don Ray of Chiriqui Chatter just confirmed that Daniel John Seppings and “Tony Sinclair” are the one and the same person who gave him the tour of the supercar facilities:

Indeed, the photo that Banana 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.

We’re sure that we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg with this character. Stay tuned!

Okke Ornstein is an award winning journalist, TV/Radio producer and photographer from the Netherlands and currently based in Panama. Specialized in high-impact investigative journalism, his work has led to arrests, questions in parliament and the downfall of many frauds and swindles.

14 Comments

  1. Pacific Pirate

    March 23, 2013 at 6:27 AM

    He will prosper here! After all, Monty is getting older and on the ledge more each day……..

    • Dick Wazinya

      March 23, 2013 at 11:16 AM

      what is old monte up to these days? Laying low I suppose or has he fled the country?

  2. Jim in the US

    March 23, 2013 at 10:40 AM

    Good God, Okke, is there some giant magnet in Panamá that draws every con artist and sleazeball in the world to it? If it’s not noni plantations, its land schemes or air ambulances or on-line gambling or get rich quick investing “seminars” and on and on. What is it about Panamá that draws all these crooks? And why are there only 2 newspapers that investigate them and both are vilified by yet another what was it he called himself…media owner. Go ride the bus…if you can find one!

  3. Dick Wazinya

    March 23, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Oh boy, this is a good one! We’ve had our share of US scammers, our Dutch scammers, our Canadian scammers, now bring on the Aussies!
    Hopefully the Aussie scam priest follows the typical path of every other crook exposed on these hallowed pages and starts threatening legal action and other nonsense. I just love it when these guys bury themselves further, they just can’t help themselves. Every single one follows the same pattern when exposed, maybe a psychologist can explain the reasons why these sociopaths react this way without fail.
    Not that I wish another frivolous lawsuit against the editor, but let the good times roll Mr. seppings!

  4. JanB

    March 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

    It is easy to overlook that scammers can only operate where a sufficient number of gullible, affluent (enough) people exist. Construction of cars either requires the logistics to import all parts, or an industrial park where the parts are designed and made “on demand”. And preferably, workers are earning less than $1 / hour. From this perspective, Chiriqui as location wouldn’t qualify – that simple.

  5. Pingback: Connecting the Dots | Chiriquí Chatter

  6. norm

    March 25, 2013 at 8:16 AM

    this guy is still around in David, I saw him a few weeks ago in Pricesmart. He told me they are now working with carbon fibre to build the cars rather than fibreglass.!!
    The origanal “factory” closed long ago & I am not sure where he is now.
    A couple of years back he opened a bar in David too but it only lasted a few weeks & closed down, there were a couple of replica car bodies outside the bar

    • The Editor

      March 25, 2013 at 8:47 AM

      A bar? Wouldn’t that be a sinful place?

      • norm

        March 26, 2013 at 9:51 AM

        dunno I met him there a couple of times

        • diddler?

          March 26, 2013 at 2:16 PM

          you think he is kiddie diddling in David?
          usually these types dont just stop.

  7. Barry

    March 27, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    anyone notice that the Aussie Scam Priest is NOT an advertiser of the wankers Panama Guide? Q raro!

  8. Barry

    April 1, 2013 at 11:02 AM

    dear editor, the pedo scam priest or his apologist is starting to get agitated over at Chiriqui chatter. apparently you are the pedo, not him, you’re hiding in iceland?! and the FBI is hunting you down for murder (poodle murder maybe?) and extortion. oh, and this website I’m typing on right now is bogus!

    this is going to get good, i can just feel it. Gentlemen start your fake replica car engines!

    ___________________________________
    John on April 1, 2013 at 10:12 am said:

    Dear Susan, I do need to warn you that the individual who is hiding in Iceland was convicted of child rape in Panama his name is Okke Ornstein and his is an extortionist who is being pursued by the FBI for murder and extortion. He has set up a bogus website called banana republic and he is trying to use his site to extort money from people. He has numerous charges if you care to investigate amongst the charges is cyber stalking which is a series criminal offence. People like Don Ray from chiriqui chatter have fallen victim to his abuse of using respected blogs for his cunning scams of extortion. Please check this information to confirm the truth http://www.panamasailingschool.com/en/home2?view=article&id=112

    • The Editor

      April 2, 2013 at 8:06 AM

      I think it is quite fitting that the owner of a fake car manufacturer quotes the web site of Monte Friesner’s sailing school which also exists on the web only.

  9. Dalandlord

    April 3, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    ROFLMAO I just have to laugh at all of this, as ive been following on jalopnik, keep up the good work, dig up all his dirt and uncover this fake!

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