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Originally published Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 7:53 PM

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Bottle fraud in Mich. may face harsher penalties

Attention smugglers of empty soda cans: Stay out of Michigan, or you could face jail time.

The Associated Press

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LANSING, Mich. —

Attention smugglers of empty soda cans: Stay out of Michigan, or you could face jail time.

Lawmakers are taking aim at people who use out-of-state cans and bottles to cash in on Michigan's recycling refund, which pays 10 cents per container.

Legislation debated Tuesday would make an attempt to return between 100 and 10,000 non-returnable containers punishable by up to 93 days in jail or $1,000 in fines, or both. Current law sets penalties only for those who actually return fraudulent containers.

Angela Madden of the Michigan Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association estimates that the state loses up to $13 million a year from out-of-state cans.

She says many businesses don't have the machines that read the mark or code that indicates a container is from Michigan.

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