Mobile Air boss Jover Chew Chiew Loon who, with his workers, cheated 26 victims into agreeing to buy mobile devices worth $16,599, was sentenced to 33 months' jail yesterday.
The 33-year-old was fined $2,000 for insulting a Chinese national by making her pick up coins totalling $547 - part of a payment he owed her 22-year-old niece - from the floor.
Chew had pleaded guilty to 12 charges, with 16 others taken into consideration. He has made full restitution of $12,199.
His lawyer, Mr Louis Joseph, said Chew is dissatisfied, considers the sentence excessive and may appeal.
Chew's four freelance sales executives are now serving between four and 14 months in jail for their roles. They received 40 per cent commission on profits made from their sales while Chew pocketed the rest.
Once, a 41-year-old Bangladeshi man was duped into thinking he could buy a phone for $330 but was told to cough up another $600 for a two-year warranty.
When the victim wanted to back out, he was asked to pay $1,000 as compensation and told that his $330 would be forfeited for "breach of contract''.
When it was found that he did not have enough money, Chew threatened to complain to his boss and get his work permit cancelled .
In passing sentence, District Judge Siva Shanmugam said there was a flagrant disregard for the law as Chew persisted in his conduct despite frequent visits from the police.
Chew, he said, seemed to have targeted vulnerable victims on the basis that they would be least likely to assert their rights in Singapore.
"The offences would also undoubtedly have had an adverse effect on Singapore's efforts to promote itself as a retail hub, with both the local and foreign media highlighting the need for caution on the part of customers when dealing with errant local retailers,'' he said.
When contacted, Consumers Association of Singapore executive director Seah Seng Choon said: "This will send a strong signal to all errant retailers who are scheming to scam consumers.
"We hope that this sends a strong message that they should not get involved in such questionable tactics. The punishment is a good message to errant traders. The court has set a precedence that such errant traders will be brought to justice."
Chew carried a plastic bag of books along with him to prison. The maximum punishment for cheating is 10 years' jail and a fine.
• Additional reporting by Jalelah Abu Baker