Group Faces Federal Charges in 5¢ Bottle Recycling Scheme

Snow Day Trash
Snow Day Trash via wwward0 on Flickr

They weren't headed to Michigan with bottles of Mello Yello, but these soda scammers are in deep after being caught defrauding bottling companies, 5¢ at a time.

A group of fraudsters was taken into federal custody today and charged with using a variety of techniques to double-charge recycling companies for the 5¢ fee paid for each bottle returned for recycling.

The year-long scam brought in "hundreds of thousands of dollars" by double-redeeming bottles, doctoring invoices, and redeeming New Jersey bottles in New York.

While it sounds like small change, the operation attracted the attention of some formidable opponents: The charges filed in the Southern District of NY are federal-level and were the result of a joint effort between the NYPD, FBI, and Customs and Border Protection and prosecution will be overseen by the Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Each of the five defendants is charged with one count of conspiring to commit mail and wire fraud and could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The New York Returnable Container Act helped to recycle 5,100,000,000 plastic, glass and aluminum beverage containers statewide in 2016.


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