A Chinese man has found himself in police custody after attempting to steal electricity to fuel his Bitcoin mining operation, local media outlet The Global Times reported today.
The suspect allegedly mined cryptocurrencies through stealing power from one of China’s biggest oil wells. The Chinese national, identified only by his surname Li, had been laying cables through deep fishponds to hide his activities and dodge the electricity bill.
Police were alerted to the crypto mining farm when the head of oil production at Daqing Oil Field reported abnormal electricity usage. This led to the discovery of 20 active Bitcoin mining rigs, which racked up an electricity bill of nearly 50,000 yuan (roughly $7,000). The police used drones to conduct an airborne investigation across an area of two kilometers.
China has sought to crack down on its mining industry in recent months, which has long flocked to areas with cheap and abundant sources of electricity.
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Various cases involving the practice have surfaced in the media, including a case in November when a Chinese headmaster was fired after a secret stack of crypto mining machines was found connected to his school’s electricity supply. In another instance, six individuals were arrested in Tianjin for using 600 miners to generate bitcoin with power taken from the local power grid.
In addition, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recently published a draft paper that highlighted Bitcoin mining as an undesirable industry for the country.
Bitmain is coming back
Quite the opposite, several prominent bitcoin mining operations who have already moved out of the country are reportedly coming back. For example, Bitmain, the world’s largest miners manufacturer, plans set up operations in southwestern China.
China previously declared war against cryptocurrencies, prohibiting initial coin offerings and clamping down on its promoters. But China’s raid on the virtual asset class, which started in September 2017, failed to dampen local investors’ enthusiasm, as many have resorted to other channels to get around the crackdown.
Despite such reservations, the government supported the underlying blockchain technology to revolutionize economic sectors and even included the technology in its roadmap for the nation’s development by 2020.