Sports agent jailed 18 months for scamming friends, client over tickets and shoes

·Senior Reporter
·3-min read
Mohamed Hafidz Ja'afar, Joseph Schooling' ex-spokesperson. (PHOTO: Zulhikam Zulkefle)
Mohamed Hafidz Ja'afar, Joseph Schooling' ex-spokesperson. (FILE PHOTO: Zulhikam Zulkefle)

SINGAPORE — A sports agent admitted to cheating his own client, a former Singapore Premier League footballer, and a score of friends over football match tickets, concert tickets as well as shoes.

Mohamed Hafidz Ja'afar, 38, had cheated 17 victims - mostly friends - over National Stadium tickets for the International Champion Cup (ICC) football tournament in August 2019, the U2 rock concert in November 2019 and the purchasing of sports apparel. He is now unemployed.

He was sentenced to 18 months' jail on Wednesday (20 October) after he pleaded guilty to eight charges of cheating, with nine charges of a similar nature taken into consideration for his sentencing. He was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal for four of his charges.

He has since made partial restitution of around $22,000.

From March to June 2019, Hafidz deceived victims into believing that he was able to purchase tickets for the ICC match between Manchester United and Inter Milan that was held in Singapore on 20 and 21 July 2019, and the U2 concert that was held in Singapore on 30 November and 1 December 2019. 

As a result of the deception, the victims, mostly friends of Hafidz, transferred monies to him via bank transfers. Hafidz would promise to deliver, but would give excuses not to meet the purchasers, even providing fake tickets. He would then become uncontactable.

In some cases, Hafidz's friends tried to use the fake tickets to enter the events but were prevented from entering. 

Hafidz even cheated his own client, Ilyas Lee, into transferring him some $17,516 to buy 52 pairs of shoes. Hafidz eventually delivered only three pairs.

In 2017, Hafidz also cheated the treasurer of Triathlon Singapore into buying $6,030 in sports apparel for the association. He did not deliver the goods, but refunded the money. 

In total, he scammed around $83,100. 

Admitted he had overpromised friends on event tickets

Addressing the court, Hafiz said that he had overpromised his friends on the tickets, but added that his friends had benefitted since 2015 as he had bought other tickets for them. He also pointed out that some of the friends did receive a few tickets for the 2019 events.

As for cheating his client Lee, Hafidz said he did not contact the victim as his investigation officer had asked him to “lay low”.

“With regards to shoes… he was my footballer at that point in time and I have delivered shoes for him, there were a couple of transactions over a year and I have been delivering…it was only the last time that I was not able to deliver to him,” he added.

“There are a couple of restitution made... the rest, I think once I am sentenced, I will also be making payment to them. I overpromised my friends, which is not right, I apologise for that. I am totally remorseful. I hope to be able to plead for leniency,” said Hafidz, who added that he needed to care for his mother.

Hafidz also added that he had been helping with swabbing and vaccination efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked that his sentence be shorter so that he could use his skills to benefit others.

Former hired by Joseph Schooling to handle marketing and communications

Hafidz was formerly hired by Singapore's national swimmer Joseph Schooling to handle the Olympic gold medallist's marketing and communications. 

The one-time Singapore Swimming Association marketing and communications director was appointed by Schooling’s family following the swimmer's golden triumph at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

According to reports, he was terminated in 2019 from Schooling’s swim school, Swim Schooling, where he had been working on a part-time basis.

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