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CRIME

Man cheats recycling machine out of €44k with one bottle

A Cologne drinks vendor modified a bottle-recycling machine to swindle tens of thousands of euros from the German recycling system, a court learned on Tuesday.

Man cheats recycling machine out of €44k with one bottle
A regular Pfand bottle-recycling machine. Photo: DPA

The man was then sentenced by a Cologne court on Wednesday to ten months in prison after he was convicted of professional deception.

The German bottle recycling system is simple enough. Place the bottle in the machine, press the button, take your receipt, and get a few cents back.

But the 37-year-old drinks salesman manipulated a bottle-recycling machine in the cellar of his drinks shop to earn a lot more than a bit of spare change, according to the Kölner Stadt Anzeiger.

Having installed a magnet sensor and a kind of wooden tunnel into the machine, the man was able to feed the bottle into the mechanism, receive the compensation, and retrieve the bottle without it being shredded.

The drinks vendor was therefore able to extract €44,362.75 from the machine by inserting the same bottle into the machine 177,451 times.

The defendant invested around €5,000 into his criminal machine. His lawyer stated that “it was a method by which one could earn good money with relatively little investment.”

The judge described the feat as a “logistical master stroke”, concluding that he must have “done nothing else every day other than attend to the machine.”

It is not known how long it took the man to earn the final sum, but the process was evidently extremely time-consuming.

“I had a radio next to it because otherwise it was really boring,” the defendant replied.

The scam is unlikely to be a one-off. The Deutsche Pfandsystem Gesellschaft, which is responsible for the machine distribution and payments across Germany, did not notice the scam until an undercover detective was given an anonymous tip-off.

The detective estimates that such scandals could be bringing about “damages into the millions [of euros].”

The defendant’s lawyer stated her client offered a full confession, but added that he “did not invent the scam, but merely copied it.”

Giving the defendant a ten month sentence, the judge spoke of the crime as an “audacious act to earn his money from such a scam.”

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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