SINGAPORE - The boss of the now defunct Mobile Air electronic retailer was convicted on Monday (Nov 16) of 12 charges of cheating, abetment by conspiracy to cheat, criminal intimidation and intentionally causing distress.
Jover Chew Chiew Loon, 33, who faced a total of 28 charges, pleaded guilty to the proceeded charges in a district court, which postponed his sentencing to Nov 30.
Chew, sole director of the company, manned the Mobile Air shop at Sim Lim Square personally and recruited salesmen to conduct sales with walk-in customers.
He controlled the pricing of the mobile devices at the shop unit and gave detailed instructions to his salesmen on how to conduct sales.
The salesman would offer a mobile device to a walk-in customer at an attractive price, which would be lower than the "cost price'' indicated on the packaging.
When the customer indicated that he wished to buy it at that 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 a "warranty" or an "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 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.
Chew and his four accomplices - Koh Guan Seng, 39, Kam Kok Keong, 31, Lim Hong Ching, 34, and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32 - cheated 26 victims into agreeing to buy mobile devices amounting to $16,599.
The four then freelance sales executives, who received 40 per cent commission on the profits made on their sales, have since been jailed between four and 14 months each.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lim is seeking a total sentence, of about three years, to be imposed on Chew, the mastermind of the operation.
She said he had institutionalised the scheme, was the primary mover and leader behind the group offence, conceived the criminal plot and set the tone of the criminal enterprise in defiantly ignoring the local authorities.
Chew's lawyer Mathew Kurian countered that the sentence should not exceed two years. He described his client as a "pauper'' and said Chew had made full restitution of $11,699 to the victims to show his remorse.
He told District Judge Siva Shanmugam that his client is being treated for depression and is now going through divorce proceedings.
A filial son, Chew takes care of his parents and is serving the debts incurred by his elder brother, counsel said.
The maximum penalty for cheating is 10 years' jail and a fine.