Sim Lim Square salesman jailed 6 months for cheating customers at two mobile phone shops

SINGAPORE - A 40-year-old mobile phone salesman who cheated foreign walk-in customers at two separate Sim Lim Square shops in 2014 was jailed for six months on Monday (Feb 29).

Tan Wei Ping pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiring with Gadget Terminal boss Chung Choon Cheik, 33, alias Gavin, and with Mobile Apps owner Tee Boon Chien, 29, to commit the offences.

Tan is the second Gadget Terminal employee to be sentenced, and the first from Mobile Apps. Both shops have closed.

He worked for Chung from October 2013 to June 2014, and received a commission on the sales he made at Gadget Terminal.

Chung allegedly taught his staff to offer phones at attractive prices and use dirty tricks to get more money out of customers once they had agreed to the price.

On March 8, 2014, Tan quoted a 31-year-old Bangladeshi electrician working here $150 for a Motorola Moto G.

After the customer handed over his ATM card, Tan covered the Nets terminal screen and told him to key in his PIN. Tan gave the excuse that he needed to hold it in that manner "so that the Nets terminal will be connected".

But the transaction did not go through because Tan had tried to charge him $1,050, when he had only $500 in his bank account.

Tan then asked the electrician to pay in cash and sign a document. After he did this, Tan demanded $900 more, saying it was for the "warranty" which he had signed.

When the customer queried this, Tan shouted an expletive at him and told him to leave.

Even when the victim called the police, Tan said there would be a "cancellation fee" and refunded just $60.

On Oct 6, 2014, six days after Tan starting working at Mobile Apps, he quoted a 23-year-old technician from China working here $1,350 for an iPhone 6 Plus.

After the customer had paid for the phone, Tan made him sign a 12-month "warranty". Tan then told him it cost $1,188, and if he did not pay up, he would get back only $450.

After negotiation, Tan reduced the "warranty" to $650. The technician left with his mobile phone, after paying the additional amount.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Muhd Faizal Nooraznan asked for three to four months' jail per charge, and for the sentences to run consecutively.

The offences involved vulnerable victims, both of whom were earning only $1,000 a month, he said. The cheating cases had also created a "deep sense of public disquiet", along with those at another errant Sim Lim Square retailer, Mobile Air.

In mitigation, Tan, who did not have a lawyer, told the court he had a degree from the National University of Singapore, but was made a bankrupt in 2010 and found it difficult to find a job. He also said he is supporting his two elderly parents.

Last month, another Gadget Terminal salesman, Justin Chew Chee Kin, 36, was jailed 28 weeks for cheating two customers. Mobile Air's boss and four staff were each jailed between four and 33 months for cheating last year.