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.”

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.