A court in Singapore on Monday found the owner of an electronic shop guilty on multiple charges after he cheated and caused distress to many customers, including a Vietnamese couple.
Jover Chew Chiew Loon, 33, who stood trial for a total of 28 charges, pleaded guilty to the charges in a district court, which postponed his sentencing to November 30, media reports in Singapore said on Monday afternoon.
Chew, sole director of the company, operated the now-defunct Mobile Air shop at Sim Lim Square personally and recruited some salesmen, according to the indictment.
They offered a mobile device to a walk-in customer at an attractive price, which would be lower than the "cost price'' indicated on the packaging.
Upon payment, the customer was persuaded to sign a binding agreement, which later turned out to include additional items and amounts, such as a "warranty" or an "in-house package," according to media reports.
Prosecutors said 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 Singaporean dollars (US$11,600).
Prosecutors are seeking a total sentence of about three years for Chew.
Late last year, a video of a Vietnamese tourist begging for a refund at the shop was shared online and went viral.
Pham Van Thoai, a 28-year-old factory worker from Ho Chi Minh City, went to Mobile Air to buy an iPhone 6 as a birthday gift for his girlfriend on November 3.
He forked over 950 Singaporean dollars (US$760) for the phone.
When he was going to leave, the shop asked him to pay an additional S$1,500 as a warranty fee to be able to leave with the phone.
Thoai, who was not fluent in English, had signed an English-language agreement that he did not scrutinize.
Thoai said he knelt down and begged for his money back, but the store's employees just laughed at him.
They finally agreed to give him S$600, but his girlfriend refused to leave without the rest of the money and called the police.
When the police arrived, Mobile Air's staff said Thoai had signed a binding agreement. The shop only offered to give him just S$70.
After members of the Consumers Association of Singapore got involved, he received another S$400, and left the shop without the phone.
Chew’s four accomplices, who were then freelance sales executives, were jailed between four and 14 months each at a court last month.
According to Singaporean law, the maximum penalty for cheating is a jail term of 10 years and a fine.