German Man Cheats Recycling Machine Out of Over $47,000 Using a Single Bottle

A drinks vendor in Cologne, Germany was recently tried and convicted to ten months in prison for modifying a bottle recycling machine and cheating the swindling several tens of thousands of euros from the national recycling system.

Bottle-recycling machines in Germany are fairly straightforward – a person inserts one or more bottles into the machine and they receive a receipt for a few euro-cents, or euros, depending on the number of bottles recycled. But in a case presented in front of a Cologne court last week, one recycling machine ended up paying a whopping €44,362.75 ($47,000) without recycling a single bottle. It turns out that an unnamed local drinks vendor managed to modify one such recycling machine located in the basement of his shop so that he could earn a lot more than the usual spare change. Evidence presented during the trial showed that the 37-year-old defendant had installed a magnet sensor and a kind of wooden tunnel into the machine, which allowed him to insert the bottle into the mechanism, receive his receipt and then retrieve the bottle without it actually getting shredded inside.

Photo: Mattes/Wikimedia Commons

If you’re wondering how many times the man had to insert and retrieve that one bottle to earn a total of $47,000, the exact number is 177,451 times. The judge presiding over this case called the scam a “logistical master stroke”, adding that must have “done nothing else every day other than attend to the machine.” And while it is unknown exactly how long it took the drinks vendor to repeat the process 177,451, he did have this to say on the matter: “I had a radio next to it because otherwise it was really boring.”

The defendant revealed that he had invested around €5,000 in modifying the machine, which is very little money compared to how much he was able to earn from the scam. And he would have probably reached a six figure sum if he had just kept his mouth shut about it. According to the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger newspaper, the Deutsche Pfandsystem Gesellschaft, the company responsible for bottle-recycling machine distribution and payments across Germany, hadn’t even noticed anything fishy about this particular machine until an undercover detective received an anonymous tip-off about it.

The detective responsible for uncovering the money swindling operation told reporters that this scam is unlikely to be a one-off, and that the recycling system is probably suffering losses into the millions of euros. The defendant’s lawyer also stated in court that her client “did not invent the scam, but merely copied it.”

via The Local

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