12-Year-Old Nets $7.6 Million By Recycling Until Authorities Catch On


A Foolproof Plan

It was a foolproof plan. Collect the cans, recycle them, and get paid afterward.

For an idea hatched by a twelve-year-old, the entire premise seemed simple enough, with a mind-blowing potential that would make her a millionaire.

She put the theory into practice, and it was only a short time before the cash started flowing in. But she had no idea that she was being closely watched.

An Elaborate Mind


But anyone who would have heard this story wouldn’t believe that a seventh grader hatched this elaborate plan. It all sounded absurd at first.

Things only started making sense after listening to the fine print. This twelve-year-old was onto something big.

But a year wouldn’t pass before the authorities knocked on her door with cuffs on the ready.

An Average Family


The Breytons seemed like an average family for many who lived in Pasadena. They had a modest house at the edge of the cul de sac, with four kids aged between seventeen and twelve.

Their dad, James, had always been a proud man. He came from nothing, hailing from the darkest reaches of Boyle Heights, where life had constantly threatened to drag him under.

Through ambition and working smart, he’d built a good life for himself, even marrying the love of his life and starting a family.

His Kids


Among his four kids were Mary, the firstborn, Kyle, the second, and twins Atlan and Kristy, aged twelve.

Although James always maintained that he had no favorites when it came to his children, it was clear that Kristy usually held his favor.

But for those who knew him or Kristy, it was clear why the two usually gravitated toward each other.

Meet Kristy


You see, among James’ four beautiful kids, Kristy was the one who had taken after him the most. Although she was still a child, she’d proven time and time again to be resourceful and driven.

She had the same drive and focus that had ripped her dad from the bowels of Boyle Heights and deposited him in Pasadena.

Who would have thought that she’d end up making the family a whopping $7.6 million out through recycling?

Spring Cleaning


It all began with Kristy’s interest in how dirty their kitchen had been one fine Saturday morning. Her mom, Elsie, and elder siblings, Mary and Kyle, were busy cleaning up.

They’d filled three trash bins with garbage and constantly had Kristy and her twin, Atlan, take out the trash.

“This is a lot of garbage,” Atlan observed as they dragged one of the bins out. He had no idea what was going on in his twin’s head.

Too Many Trips


“It is,” a calm Kristy agreed. She wondered why her mom and elder siblings had separated the trash instead of having them in one bin. To her, that would have saved the multiple trips she and Atlan had to take.

“Surely they can fit the trash in one bin,” she said, and her brother chuckled before informing her that Mary and Kyle were separating the trash because some were to be recycled.

That alone sparked something within Kristy.

She Takes Notice


Kristy was no stranger to recycling. But she’d never quite seen it under this light.

It wasn’t until she and her twin were dragging bins brimming with aluminium cans and plastic bottles that she took notice.

That night, she fell into a three-hour research venture, reading all she could about recycling. She was surprised by what she uncovered.

Her Research


She learned that parts of the ocean, twice as large as the entirety of Texas, were filled with trash.

Emissions from burning waste were also destroying the world. Rivers, lakes, and massive swathes of land worldwide were also getting polluted daily.

Among the key ways to reduce these adverse effects was to recycle. But these weren’t the only things the twelve-year-old uncovered.

She’s Interested


Kristy discovered that there was a way to make money from recycling in her state.

Initially, the process had been difficult to digest, with her young mind having difficulty getting everything.

But she called her elder sister and asked a few questions, and although Mary didn’t think much of her sister’s newfound interest in recycling, she quickly explained how the process worked.

California Redemption Value


When someone buys a plastic or aluminium bottle in California, they must settle an extra 5 to 10 cents in California Redemption Value. The consumer can get this money back by returning these items to a recycling centre anywhere in the state.

Kristy listened carefully, nodding her head each time her big sister repeated a word or had to explain the concept again.

By the end of her research, the twelve-year-old had half of what she’d need to start her money-making empire.

The Math


Kristy couldn’t sleep that night. She thought about all the recyclable items that usually left her home every Saturday morning.

If a single can or bottle guaranteed her between five to ten cents, she’d only need about twenty of them to make a dollar.

While that amount might not seem like a lot, it was a fortune for a twelve-year-old like Kristy. She almost screamed excitedly, thinking about how she’d spend all that cash.

Waking Up Early


Kristy woke up at 4 a.m. the following day for the first time in her young life. She hurried to the family computer to continue with her research. She’d already made a mental list of what she’d buy with her recycling money.

She wanted a few dresses and dolls for herself, a video game or two for Kyle and Atlan, and a makeup kit for Mary.

She wanted to take her mom and dad for a picnic and show them that she could pay for stuff, too. She had no clue what she was about to stumble upon.

What To Buy


Kristy’s mind was racing with ideas of what to buy. But she had to get her operation underway first.

The best way to do this would be to convince either Kyle or Mary to drive her around Pasadena while she visits the different recycling centres.

By 9 a.m., she, Kyle, and Mary were visiting recycling centres all over the city. A tourist cum researcher, little Kristy, was asking question after question. She’d do everything to make a successful business.



Each recycling centre worker was kind enough to let Kristy experience the processes found in the centres.

From sorting and packing to transporting, they explained how everything worked.

They even discussed how Kristy could make a few bucks by bringing recyclable material to these centres. “Oh, you’ll see a lot of me in the coming weeks,” Kristy whispered with a sinister smile.

It Begins

For the next week, Kristy started a collecting campaign all over her neighborhood.

Posing as a good-hearted girl eager to teach families how to recycle as part of a school program, she convinced most of her neighbors to dump their beverage cans in sorted bins she’d offered them.

Her parents were proud to see her applying herself in this new endeavor. Her siblings thought it was only a new hobby she’d outgrow in the next few days. None of them could have predicted where all this would land them.

Let’s Get Paid


By the end of the first week, Kristy had enough recyclable trash to fill the trunk of her sister’s car. After wrapping the cans properly, the two drove them to the recycling centre in Pasadena.

Even Mary was floored when the centre handed Kristy a hundred and twenty dollars for her haul. That amount was enough to buy Kristy one of her coveted dolls and take the family out for pizza.

Everyone thought she’d put aside this obsession when, in reality, she’d only begun.

Double Or Nothing


Kristy doubled down on her efforts. She started moving up and down the neighborhood every evening, collecting trash. She’d fill bags with beverage cans, all of which she knew equalled cash.

By now, her twin, Atlan, who had seen how big of a gold mine this was, had hopped on the bandwagon.

Together, the two brought in two hundred dollars and a lot of commendations from the neighborhood at the end of the week. But all of this would end in nothing but tears.

Thinking It Through


The twins continued collecting cash. But as the days passed, an idea hit Kristy, an idea that would result in her untimely downfall.

The twelve-year-old had noticed that she and her brother spent too much time collecting trash weekly.

Although the money was good, the job was taxing. Add this to them having to attend school, and the whole problem sprouted more problems.

Eliminating The Problem


Kristy wondered if she could find a way to eliminate the problem. Could she get a few friends to help with collecting the beverage cans?

As before, she fell into hours of research, looking for the best solution for her problem.

It wasn’t long before she stumbled upon something grand. With a smile on her face, she bookmarked the page and went to bed. Her life was about to change.

Saving The Cash


Kristy and Atlan continued collecting recyclables throughout their neighborhood for the next few weeks. But Kristy wouldn’t use her money on dolls or dresses each time they’d get paid.

She would give Atlan and a few of their friends who’d jumped on the prospect their cut and keep the rest.

Her family thought she was saving it for something when, in truth, she was using it for something that would land everyone in court.

Let’s Set Up An Account


A few weeks in, Kristy asked Mary if she could help her set up an online bank account.

“What is it for?” Mary asked. “Nothing much,” Kristy answered. “I just want to save the cash I’m making.”

“I could get you a kiddy bank,” Mary suggested. But her sister wanted something more grand. She asked Mary to open an account in her own name and give her the credentials.

No Damage


For a twelve-year-old, Kristy could do little to no damage with a new bank account.

Knowing that she would be safe, Mary opened the least taxing account that would also result in the least trouble if anything were to go wrong.

But she didn’t hand her sister the login credentials. Instead, she helped Kristy link the account to an online platform from which the recycling centers would be depositing the recycling cash.

A Few Months In


Afterward, she completely forgot about it. But a few months in, she realized Kristy was sweating where she sat, giggling as she stared at the family computer.

“Kriss, are you okay?” Mary asked, and Kristy pushed the computer screen to face her.

Mary almost jumped back at what she saw. Her lips parted, and her brows drew up. “How?” she asked.



The screen showed the balance on the bank account she opened. For the last few weeks, Mary had been getting calls from the bank about unexplainable activities in her account.

But she’d assured them that that was expected since she knew Kristy couldn’t do anything questionable with the account.

But staring at it now, all she could mouth was, “How?” How had any of this gotten past the bank? How could they allow this?

That Is A Lot Of Money


“Is it a bug?” Mary asked, and Kristy shook her head. “It has been growing ever since you gave me the account,” she said.

The amount on the screen read $7.6 million, which Mary couldn’t believe.

She ran to call their parents, and the whole family sat with Kristy for the next hour, trying to figure out what had happened between the time they’d left her to collect cans and now. But the authorities would beat them to the punch.

A Trail To The Authorities


You see, the bank had already contacted the authorities following the activities on the account.

They’d realized the massive amounts of money pouring in every month. They couldn’t understand why all these recycling plants across the state were sending money to one account.

But before the family could get to the bottom of everything, the whole neighborhood lit up in red and blue lights. Sirens took the air, and a few minutes later, the authorities knocked on the door.

The Authorities Are Here


Panic washed over Kristy as she peered outside to see police cars approaching the house. Being as young as she was, she didn’t know that what she’d done was against the law. But now it was too late.

The authorities questioned her about their operation and the large sums of money she had accumulated.

Suspicion mounted as the officers discovered that she didn’t have proper permits for her recycling business, which was required by local regulations. But that was the least of her worries.

Out Of Control


The situation quickly spiralled out of control. Kristy, overwhelmed by fear and confusion, couldn’t provide coherent explanations. The authorities seized her earnings as evidence while launching an investigation into their operation.

It was only after five hours of prodding that Kristy finally came clean. She explained that she’d set up connections all over the state for the last few months using the initial money she’d started saving.

She’d gotten in touch with an individual from Arizona and was posing as a grown-up. She’d buy recyclables from him, and he’d have them transported to chosen warehouses in California. Kristy would then have a few associates collect the goods and take them to different recycling centres, who would then pay by sending the sum to her account. She’d give everyone involved a cut from this pool and save the rest.



Everyone was dumbfounded when they heard the twelve-year-old explain everything. It was even more shocking that she’d done all this without leaving the house. But she admitted to using her elder sister’s photos and videos as her own. She’d been convinced that all this was okay and that she wasn’t hurting anyone.

But Kristy had crossed several legal lines that landed her entire family in court. The complex legal process took months to complete, and Kristy’s family received fines and penalties for its daughter’s actions. The experience had been a harsh lesson in the complexities of the adult world, and Kristy vowed never to take shortcuts or engage in ventures without proper guidance.

She took the situation to heart. She had initiated the project and felt a tremendous sense of responsibility for what had transpired. With the support of her family, she channelled her determination and resourcefulness into more legitimate pursuits, focusing on her studies and seeking opportunities to positively impact her community.


This story was handcrafted with love by a creative novelist to thrill and entertain, mirroring real-life situations to awaken your imagination and evoke profound emotions. All events, places, and characters are products of the author’s imagination, and all images and videos are used for illustrative purposes only. We hope you enjoyed reading it just as much as we enjoyed writing it!