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Credit card fraud nets jail time

Over a year after getting caught with 27 fraudulent credit cards listed under nine different names, a Kelowna man has pleaded guilty to 22 charges.

Michael Feist, 32, was busted outside Winners in West Kelowna on Nov. 28, 2012.

Police were tipped off after a GPS beacon went off on a rental car from Vancouver that wasn’t returned on time. The white BMW was rented from the Richmond airport Avis counter on Nov. 18, and was scheduled to return on Nov. 25.

Workers quickly realized the car wasn’t coming back and also learned that both the driver’s license and credit card used to rent the car were fake. They turned on the GPS unit for the car and contacted police, who traced the car to the Okanagan.

The RCMP set up a stakeout and arrested Feist when he returned to the car. He was found with 11 credit cards in his wallet, another 11 in his pockets and five more in the console of his rental car. Officers also found three different drivers licenses in various names, all with Feist’s photo.

He initially gave police a different name, one that was used on some of the credit cards and a piece of ID, but they soon found out the truth.

While searching the car, officers also found three cellphones, two Telus phone cards, a small amount of methamphetamines, laptops, iPads, a police radar detector, a wig and $450 cash.

Upon a closer look, they also discovered that different modifications were made to different credit cards, which the Crown argued showed an enhanced ability to commit these crimes.

Feist has been in remand since his arrest and also has outstanding warrants from Alberta. The Crown was seeking a one-year custodial sentence for failing to return the rental car and up to two years consecutive for everything else.

His lawyer argued Feist was not a one-man operation and was in the depths of a serious drug addiction at the time of his arrest, partially stemming from finding out his girlfriend had been murdered in Calgary earlier that same year.

According to his lawyer, Feist has recognized his arrest as a “blessing in disguise”; noting that he has had the past 15 months to get clean while in jail.

For his own part, Feist took the opportunity to apologize to everyone involved, including his parents who were sitting in the courtroom, his mother softly dabbing at tears with a tissue. He told the court that he didn’t feel a lot of guilt at the time of the crimes, and took solace in the fact that he didn’t have to put names to the faces of who he was defrauding.

In the end, the court heard Feist racked up approximately $11,000 in fraudulent purchases and was sentenced to time served plus an additional 30 days to be served concurrently with each of the previous counts. He will also have to face his charges in Alberta, which means he could spend the next two years in jail.

He was also ordered to pay restitution to the Bank of Montreal and submit a sample of his DNA to the National Data Bank.

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