Jover Chew and Mobile Air staff charged over cheating cases at Sim Lim Square

Jover Chew Chiew Loon, the owner of Mobile Air, was charged in court on Friday morning with cheating a total of 25 victims at his now-defunct Sim Lim Square shop. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Jover Chew Chiew Loon, the owner of Mobile Air, was charged in court on Friday morning with cheating a total of 25 victims at his now-defunct Sim Lim Square shop. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Jover Chew, the owner of now-defunct Mobile Air, and four other men were charged in court on Friday morning over cheating cases at their now-defunct Sim Lim Square shop.

The five men, aged between 31 and 38, were arrested on Wednesday "for a series of cheating cases", said the police in a statement.

Each of the five faces between one and 26 charges. Chew alone faces 25 cheating offences and one criminal intimidation charge.

Several police reports were lodged in 2014 against the mobile phone shop for dishonest sales practices. Customers said they were coerced into buying mobile phones and in-house warranties at inflated prices.

"These victims ended up paying for the hand phones at much higher prices or had to pay fees to cancel the deal," said the police.

The police conducted extensive follow-up investigations, and interviewed victims and witnesses to gather evidence before consulting with the Attorney-General's Chambers to bring them to court.

On Friday morning, Chew and two of the men were brought from remand in a police van to the State Courts at about 7.30am.

Another former Mobile Air employee, Edmund Lim Hong Ching, was spotted arriving at the State Courts at 8.50am. He was reported to also be known as Ricky Lee and Wilfred, and took over Chew's shop after the owner closed it and went missing late last year.

Chew and his shop became infamous after a video of a crying Vietnamese tourist begging staff at the shop for a refund went viral last November.

The tourist, factory worker Pham Van Thoai, was initially quoted a price of $950 for an iPhone 6 which he wanted to buy for his girlfriend. But he was later asked to pay an additional $1,500 for a warranty.

Mr Thoai was told that if he failed to pay the additional amount, he would not only lose the $950 but also the new phone. He went on his knees, pleading with Chew to return his money.

After the video of the incident went viral, online vigilantes posted Chew's personal details online, driving him out of the mall.

A crowdfunding campaign was initiated to raise funds to buy a new phone for Mr Thoai. About $15,500 was raised, with $1,538 used to buy an iPhone for him. But Mr Thoai declined the gift, excepting only about $200 worth of food items from Singaporeans.

Chew also came under the spotlight for refunding a woman $1,010 in coins, which included one- and five-cent coins that came up to 18kg last October.

The woman from China had turned to the Small Claims Tribunal after Mobile Air charged her an additional $1,400 for a mobile phone.

Chinese evening newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported on Thursday that Chew was having breakfast with his mother the day before when he received a call to report to the police at 3pm.

He then told her that he would have to stay at the police station for 48 hours, and would be charged in court on Friday morning, Shin Min reported.