Koh Guan Seng, 38; Kam Kok Keong, 31; Lim Hong Ching, 34; and Kelvin Lim Zhi Wei, 32, were in court today to face up to their charges for cheating tourists at notorious I.T. mall Sim Lim Square today.
All 4 are former employees of the now-infamous Jover Chew, the boss of Mobile Air. They had worked for him between 2013 and 2014 and received 40% commission from Chew’s sales profits.
The court heard that the sales scam was devised by Chew and taught to his employees.
First, each handphone’s cost price was indicated on its packaging in code, which could only be understood by Chew and his employees. The employee’s task was to sell the handphones at above cost price, and if they failed to do so they would have to dip into their own pockets to make up for the difference.
The scam starts with walk-in customers being offered a handphone at below cost price. Once a price had been agreed upon, the salesman would collect payment, then open up the packaging and present the handphone for inspection. Next, the customer would be asked to sign an invoice stating the agreed price.
Upon inking the deal, the salesman would then write additional items — for instance, an in-house warranty or a phone service — on the invoice and mark up the total price.
Should the customer ask to call off the deal, the salesman would either refuse a refund or impose a cancellation fee.
Chew and his employees succeeded in scamming 25 victims last year.
The prosecution called for a sentence of 13 to 14 months imprisonment for Kam, who had 9 charges and others taken into consideration. The prosecution presented evidence showing how he had collaborated with Kelvin Lim and Chew to scam a Bangladeshi construction worker last year October.
Mr Lutfur Rahman Abdul Alim was initially quoted S$330 for a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 handphone. After collecting payment by NETS, Kelvin Lim told Mr Lutfur that he had to pay another S$600 for a two-year warranty. Chew further threatened him with a fine of S$1,000 and revoking of his work permit. Frightened, Mr Lutfur followed suit with their instructions but failed to pay the full amount as his bank account only had S$307. Eventually, he paid another S$300 over NETS, leaving himself a balance of S$7.
Th prosecution advised a jail term of five months for Kelvin Lim for 1 charge of abetting others to cheat.
Koh faced 15 charges involving S$9,789, but only had six charges proceeded with. Koh’s defence lawyers argued that Koh was a “mere employee” who had tried to dissuade his boss from these errant ways. In fact, he had asked to quit, after realising that his actions were wrong. He claimed that when Chew heard about this, he demanded that Koh repay him in full for an earlier loan should he choose to leave the company. Since he was unable to do so, Koh was forced to continue working for Chew. He claims that Koh had volunteered to address all the complaints from the consumer watchdog Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) and the Small Claims Tribunals.
However, evidence presented before the court revealed that Koh had taunted customers, inviting them to lodge complaints with CASE or sue him, contrary to the image of contrite that the defence presented. For these crimes, the prosecution suggested 16 to 18 months imprisonment.
The prosecution proposed a jail term of 8 for the fourth employee, Lim Hong Ching, who faces 2 charges.
The hearing has been adjourned till 14th October, and the 4 men are out on bail.