Jover Chew bailed out after being charged with cheating 25 victims 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
Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32, was charged with one count of cheating involving $330. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG 
Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32, was charged with one count of cheating involving $330. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG 
Edmund Lim Hong Ching, 33, faces two counts of cheating involving $1,600. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Edmund Lim Hong Ching, 33, faces two counts of cheating involving $1,600. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Jover Chew leaving the State Courts on Friday. His mother posted $40,000 bail. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
Jover Chew leaving the State Courts on Friday. His mother posted $40,000 bail. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Jover Chew Chiew Loon, the owner of Mobile Air, was bailed on Friday afternoon after being charged in court earlier in the day with cheating a total of 25 victims at his now-defunct Sim Lim Square shop.

He walked out of the State Courts at around 3.45pm, after his mother posted $40,000 bail.

Chew was charged with 25 counts of cheating involving a total of $14,449 and one count of criminal intimidation for threatening to cause a victim's work permit to be revoked.

The 33-year-old and four other men were arrested by police on Wednesday. The four were also charged yesterday, and faced between one to 15 counts of cheating.

Chew, who was represented by lawyer Chia Kok Seng, did not enter a plea. Mr Chia asked for time to take instructions from his client, and a pre-trial conference has been fixed for June 25.

Among his accomplices, Koh Guan Seng, 38, was charged with 15 counts of cheating involving $9,789. Kam Kok Keong, 31, faces 8 charges of cheating involving $3,710.

Edmund Lim Hong Ching, 33, faces two counts of cheating involving $1,600.

Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32, was charged with one count of cheating involving $330.

The four men were all unrepresented. They indicated to the court that they would be pleading guilty at a later date. Their case will be heard again on June 19.

Several police reports were lodged in 2014 against Mobile Air 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 on Wednesday, the day the five men were arrested.

Earlier on Friday morning, Chew, Koh and Kam arrived at the State Courts at around 7.30am in a police van.

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.

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, accepting 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.

Both victims are not among the 25 victims named in the charges on Friday morning.

Chinese evening newspaper Lianhe Wanbao reported on Thursday that Chew has been unemployed for the past five months, and occasionally helps out at his mother's hawker stall.

Shin Min Daily News reported that Chew was having breakfast with his mother on Wednesday 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.

"He and the others have been asked to assist with investigations many times in the past half year," Madam Chew was quoted by Shin Min as saying.

Both Madam Chew and her son declined to comment when approached on Friday afternoon.

For each of their cheating offences, Chew and his accomplices face up to 10 years in jail and a fine. For criminal intimidation, Chew faces up to two years's jail, a fine or both.

amirh@sph.com.sg