Secret phone sales of an incompetent thief from Wangaratta Telstra shop

The work of Christopher Felmingham to improve his sales at the Wangaratta shop had greatly impressed Telstra management during 2014 and 2015.

They were so pleased with his work, they even rewarded him with a $350 bonus.

The only problem was Felmingham, 25, had actually faked 48 of these new contracts and stole the high-end handsets, worth a total of $65,000, to sell himself in Melbourne.

The former weekend manager embarked on his scheme 13 months before his eventual arrest in April 2015.

He started by stealing new and loan phones from the shelves, but management started to become suspicious so he moved onto fake contracts.

Solicitor Martin Koslowski told the Wangaratta Magistrates’ Court that Felmingham made glaring errors during his crimes, such as using his work email account when registering the fake contracts.

“It doesn’t get more incompetent than that,” he said.

Police investigations into his Google history revealed he had searched to ensure addresses actually existed before using them for fake contacts.

The driver’s licence numbers were completely fabricated.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Mario Eliades said stolen phones, tablets and SIM cards matching the codes were found at Felmingham’s home. 

Felmingham appeared in court on Wednesday to plead guilty to charges including theft and obtaining property by deception.

He started using the drug speed when trying to juggle jobs with both Telstra and McDonald’s. But he was also heavily gambling, up to $5000 per day at the pokies, and the two vices brought about money problems.

“He managed to wean himself off that problem,” Mr Koslowski said.

Magistrate John O’Callaghan said Felmingham was close to going to jail, but believed he was a decent person.

He instead placed the former Telstra employee on a two-year corrections order, with the requirement to complete 200 hours of unpaid work.

“This is planned, it's a theft, it's devious, it's dishonest,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

“Thefts against a trusting employer, and I suspect you would have been friends with the people there, makes it so much worse.”

The magistrate said shops run by licencees in the country already had it tough.

“It has a strong emotional effect on the people who own the business who are just trying to get ahead,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

Felmingham committed to repaying the $65,000, but the court referred restitution to a civil debt to be collected by Telstra.

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