Authorities Arrest 31 in California Recycling Fraud

May 13, 2010 Updated: May 13, 2010

California Attorney General Jerry Brown said the government has shut down large scale fraudulent recycling rings.

Agents from the Department of Justice worked with the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) to investigate rings that trucked tons of bottles and cans from Arizona and Nevada in order to collect California’s California Redemption Value (CRV) refunds.

Fraudulent returns stripped $3.5 million from the cash-strapped state.

“Conviction of redemption fraud and the importation of recyclable materials is a felony if the redemption amount is over $400," according to the attorney general’s press release.

Many of the empty bottles and cans were filled with sand in order to collect a higher refund. Law enforcement agents arrested 31 people in the case. They had been observed transporting huge amounts of bottles and cans, storing them in houses and storage facilities, and buying them from recycling facilities to take to other recycling facilities.

"These bands of thieves have been caught red-handed running tons of cans and bottles from across the state's border and fraudulently collecting money through the California Redemption Value program," Attorney General Brown said.

"Defrauding the state's recycling program is not a way to make easy money. We are looking for you and you will be caught."