Jover Chew's four accomplices plead guilty to cheating charges

Salesmen (from left) Koh Guan Seng, Kam Kok Keong, Lim Hong Ching and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei have pleaded guilty to conspiring to cheat customers at Mobile Air.
Salesmen (from left) Koh Guan Seng, Kam Kok Keong, Lim Hong Ching and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei have pleaded guilty to conspiring to cheat customers at Mobile Air.ST PHOTOS: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Four salesmen from a Sim Lim Square mobile shop, where a Vietnamese tourist had begged for a refund, pleaded guilty on Thursday (Oct 1) to engaging in a conspiracy to cheat walk-in customers.

The four - Koh Guan Seng, 38, Kam Kok Keong, 31, Lim Hong Ching, 34, and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32 - faced between one and 15 charges each.

Koh, who cheated a total of $9,789, admitted to six charges; Kam, accused of nine counts involving $5,310, admitted to four charges; Lim Hong Ching, 34, pleaded guilty to two charges amounting to $1,600; and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32, one charge involving $330.

They were working for Jover Chew Chiew Loon, 33, director of the now-defunct Mobile Air, at Sim Lim Square last year. Chew's case will be mentioned on Oct 28.

The court heard that Chew manned the shop personally, controlled the pricing of the mobile devices and gave detailed instructions to his salesmen on how to conduct sales.

The salesman would offer a mobile device to a customer at an attractive price, which would be lower than the "cost price''.

When the customer indicated that he wished to buy the product at the quoted price, the salesman would ask the customer to make full payment.

Upon payment, the customer would not be given the device but asked to sign an invoice which reflected the agreed price. However, once it was signed, additional items and amounts would be added to it. Such items could include "warranty'' or "in-house package''.

The salesman would then alter the total price on the invoice and demand the extra amounts from the customer.

This method of collecting payment in two tranches was devised by Chew, the court heard.

The salesman would use the signed invoice, which now reflected the new items as basis for refusing to hand over the product unless the victim paid the additional amounts.

In their submissions on sentencing, the prosecution said this was a brazen case of cheating of shocking notoriety.

Aggravating factors cited were the serious violation of corporate integrity and operating under a facade of legitimacy; offences committed against vulnerable victims; deep disquiet and effect on public confidence in the tourism and retail industries; and effect on retail landscape.

The prosecution is seeking a sentence of four to five months' jail on each charge.

District Judge Toh Yung Cheong adjourned the case to Oct 14 for counsel to reply to the prosecution's submissions.