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Smugglers still cashing in on Michigan can refund

February 23, 2013 • Business


A Michigan deposit is shown printed on a beverage in Detroit, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Michigan lawmakers want to crack down on can and bottle smugglers they say are scamming Michigan for undeserved recycling refunds, corrupting a generous 10-cent per container payback policy once infamously portrayed in a “Seinfeld” episode and which beverage officials now claim costs the state millions of dollars annually. Lawmakers say it’s a serious problem, especially in border counties, and they want to toughen penalties on people who try to return un-marked, out-of-state cans and bottles for refunds. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers want to crack down on can and bottle smugglers they say are scamming Michigan for undeserved recycling refunds, corrupting a generous 10-cent per container payback policy once infamously portrayed in a “Seinfeld” episode and which beverage officials now claim costs the state millions of dollars annually.

“Seinfeld” characters Kramer and Newman failed miserably in their comedic attempt to cash in on the refund, when they loaded a mail truck full of cans and bottles in New York and attempted to drive them to Michigan. But lawmakers say it’s a serious problem, especially in border counties, and they want to toughen penalties on people who try to return unmarked, out-of-state cans and bottles for refunds.

“If you are intending to defraud … then you should be held accountable for it,” said Republican Rep. Kenneth Kurtz of Coldwater. He recently introduced legislation aimed at cracking down on scammers who drive car and truck loads of cans from Indiana, Wisconsin and Ohio — states that do not offer refunds — to stores across the border in Michigan.

His legislation would make an attempt to return between 100 and 10,000 non-returnable containers punishable by up to 93 days in Login to read more

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