His online vaping business went up in smoke more than four years ago now, but the final financial ramifications fare only just hitting home for Chong Weisheng.
The 35-year-old was today fined a record S$99,000 (about US$72,000) for illegally peddling electronic vaporizers online, a case stemming from a March 2015 raid on his Bukit Panjang home.
According to the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), Chong was advertising and selling a wide variety of vaporizers, including e-cigars, e-cigarettes, and e-pipes, on an e-commerce (how appropriate!) website he created, known as huntersbrew.net. Sorry, vape fans, the website has long been out of service, in case you were wondering.
Prior to his arrest, Chong had even tried to evade the authorities by taking “extra measures to hide his illegal activities” after hearing “news of HSA’s raids” on other vape peddlers, the HSA said in a statement posted to their website today.
And just how did he go about that? Well, for one thing, Chong changed the website’s domain name twice to avoid detection, and added a password feature that meant potential customers had to be vetted before gaining access.
He also became “selective” with customers and labeled his transactions “computer IT services” to cover up his business, today’s statement said.
Chong is being slapped with the highest penalty on record for illegally selling vaping products, beating out a 2014 fine of S$64,000, according to HSA, which said that 20 people have so far been arrested for the same offense.
Those found guilty of selling, possessing for sale, importing or distributing electronic vaporizers in Singapore could be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months, or both, on the first offense. The penalty is doubled for the subsequent offense.
Meanwhile, those who possess, purchase or use vapes in Singapore could be fined up to S$2,000.