Victim of Jover Chew: 'I have no one here... I felt weak and helpless'

He wanted to buy an iPad Air and decided to visit Sim Lim Square.

After all, he had frequented the mall previously and bought a drawing tab and piano accessories without any problems.

But his decision to visit Mobile Air turned out to be one he still regrets after he was cheated of over $400 by its employees.

Adam (not his real name), who is from a neighbouring South-east Asian country, was one of the 26 customers fleeced by the shop's then owner, Jover Chew, and his staff members.

Chew, 33, was jailed 33 months and fined $2,000 yesterday. He had pleaded guilty last month to 10 counts of cheating, one count of criminal intimidation and one count of causing distress.

Adam, who has been working in Singapore for five years and declined to give his real name for fear of reprisals, recounted to The New Paper his harrowing experience when he visited Sim Lim Square sometime between April and August last year.

He walked into Mobile Air, which has since closed down, to buy an iPad Air and was quoted a price of about $450.

"I trusted the shop because I had full trust that Singapore shopkeepers were running honest businesses," he said.

But after paying up, the Mobile Air staff demanded $900 more.

That was when Adam knew something was wrong and called the police.

It did not seem to work.

He said: "They (the staff members) acted smug and confident that they could convince the police. And they did."

Adam said the police officers just told him to contact the Consumers Association of Singapore.

He did not get back the money that he paid to the shop.

Said Adam: "I have no one here to back me up - my family, friends are not here. I'm sure this is why they target low-wage foreign workers like me.

"I felt weak and helpless."

It was a point noted yesterday by District Judge Siva Shanmugam, who said most of Chew's victims were foreigners and were unlikely to assert their rights here. 

ADVERSE EFFECT

Judge Siva also said the offences 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.

Said Adam: "The experience definitely left an indelible mark on how I purchase items. No, I won't go back (to Sim Lim Square), or to any shop that looks cheap and dubious."

Adam said he had no opinion on Chew's sentence and how the court delivered judgment.

He said: "I only wish those victimised will learn from it.

"I love Singapore and hold the Government and law enforcement in very high regard.

"I know a lot of Singaporeans are doing their part to keep the country safe for everyone."

Chew set up shop to scam customers: Judge

District Judge Siva Shanmugam said yesterday that Jover Chew Chiew Loon had set up Mobile Air to cheat unsuspecting customers, and the 26 cheating charges showed his persistence in doing so.

The judge added that Chew had used a variety of dishonest means and "remained unperturbed by letters from the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and a default order from the Small Claims Tribunal".

He sentenced Chew, 33, to 33 months' jail and fined him $2,000 for 10 counts of cheating, one count of criminal intimidation and another of using insulting behaviour on a customer.

Another 16 cheating charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

His four accomplices - Koh Guan Seng, Kam Kok Keong, Lim Hong Ching and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei - were jailed between four and 14 months each in October.

Court papers said that after setting up Mobile Air in October 2013, Chew had masterminded a scheme to lure unsuspecting customers to his Sim Lim Square shop by offering mobile devices at low prices.

He also taught his sales team a set of tricks they could use to con customers, including bullying tactics to force sales and inflating prices with exorbitant add-ons.

CROSSHEAD

Between January and October last year, Chew and his accomplices cheated 26 customers of $12,199.

Chew actively managed Mobile Air and earned 60 per cent commission on profits from mobile phone sales.

The shop first made headlines last October after giving a customer $547 in coins as part of a $1,010 refund ordered by the Small Claims Tribunal.

It was in the spotlight again the following month after a video clip of a Vietnamese tourist kneeling in his shop and begging for a refund went viral.

Chew has since returned all $12,199 due to his 26 victims.

His mother, who was in court, was seen sobbing and hugging her son after the proceedings. 


This article was first published on Dec 01, 2015.
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