Transit passes aren’t cheap, but they’re certainly more affordable than the $33,625 one Calgary man has to pony up for selling fake Calgary Transit UPASSes. Following an extensive investigation, David Philip Smerd, 31, has been ordered to pay the gigantic sum to Calgary Transit to make up for the illegal sales. The Calgarian’s production and distribution of counterfeit passes could have cost the City of Calgary more than $1 million in lost revenue.

UPASS stickers are designed for Calgary’s University and College students and the cost is usually included in tuition fees. They are small stickers that appear in the corner of students’ ID cards and are altered slightly each semester to avoid fraud. 

According to the police report, suspicion arose in June 2017 when Calgary Transit Peace Officers began to notice an increasing number of fake UPASS stickers. Not only were these stickers plentiful, but they were also exceptionally good.

Commuters caught with the fake passes said they bought them online. Soon after, officers in the Online Stolen Property (OSP) Team found the sticker site and launched their investigation to track down the individual behind them. 

In January 2018, three packages filled with over three thousand fake UPASS stickers were discovered at the border. The illegal packages were on their way from China, where the stickers were being produced, to Smerd’s address. The packages contained so many stickers that it could've cost $1.3 million in revenue from Calgary Transit if it made it past customs.

After nine search warrants and a ton of evidence was collected, Smerd was finally arrested on July 25, 2018. He was originally charged $5,000 for making forged documents and fraud, but the courts just upped the ante.

Police believe that the passes were in circulation between May 2015 and January 2018. Smerd made roughly $34,000 from the illegal sales, according to the police report. After his sentencing, Smerd’s charges will cost him a whopping $33,625, nearly equivalent to his illegal earnings.

What have we learned today, folks? Get your UPASS the old fashioned way (by waiting in a massive line at your school) or keep a little pocket change on hand. Fare is fair.

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