Mobile Air scammer prepares for jail

Infamous Mobile Air scammer Jover Chew is scheduled to be sentenced on November 30 after earlier this week pleading guilty to 12 charges of cheating customers of more than $16,500.

He expects to be jailed for between two and three years.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Eunice Lim this week urged the court to impose a jail term of 36 months to reflect Chew’s “enhanced culpability” as compared to his co-accused who were sentenced to varying jail terms last month.

Chew was the owner of the now defunct Mobile Air phone store in Sim Lim Square whose theft from customers – usually tourists or foreign workers with limited understanding of English or consumer rights – received widespread international publicity after a Vietnamese he tried to steal from broke down in tears begging for a refund.

This week Chew pleaded guilty to 12 charges of cheating 26 victims between January and October last year. Another 16 charges will be taken into consideration when he is sentenced to almost certain jail time. Four of his staff involved in the scamming have already been jailed for between four and 14 months.

Ten of the charges he pleaded guilty to involved cheating offences and the others were for criminal intimidation and causing intentional distress.

“The audacious nature of his cheating and the lawlessness he displayed have stirred outrage,” Lim told the court hearing this week. Chew and his staff “behaved like thugs rather than business people and sales assistants”, she said.

According to Lim, Chew’s offences have “cast a long shadow on Singapore’s tourism and retail industries”, referring to media articles urging tourists to be careful when shopping for electronic goods in Singapore.

“Reputation is hard to build, easy to destroy and even more difficult to restore,” she said.

Chew’s lawyer told the court the defendant had made full restitution to his victims on his own initiative. “This clearly shows he’s remorseful.”

The court heard that Chew was undergoing treatment for depression, in the midst of divorce proceedings filed by his wife, servicing “massive debts” accumulated by his brother and taking care of his parents.

“He has lost everything in life and is looking forward to starting a new life after serving his sentence,” his lawyer Matthew Kurian said, calling for a maximum term of 24 months.

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