Chinese police have initiated criminal investigations against six persons for operating illegal cryptocurrency mining, local media outlet Xinhua reports, citing a local police spokesperson.
While investigating an unusual surge in electricity consumption in the city of Tianjin, the police discovered the facility, which short-circuited the mains to avoid charges. The culprits have plugged the cables into a nearby transformer station.
The police went to inspect the spot after a local energy supplier reported significant power losses coming from the mining area, nearly 28 percent at peak consumption hours. A search of the area led to the discovery of over 600 mining computers connected via electrical cables in what the police described as “largest power theft case in recent years.”
“Eight high-power fans were also seized,” Xinhua added.
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China and several countries have recently intensified their efforts to crack down on cryptocurrency mining, which involves an energy-intensive process of solving math problems to add transactions to the blockchain.
This isn’t the first time cryptocurrency miners have been accused of illegally using subsidized electricity in China, which its authorities previously called for an orderly exit from the industry.
The country’s miners have played a significant role in the cryptocurrency ecosystem where they once accounted for 70 percent of all mined bitcoins.
While cryptocurrency mining is not a fraudulent practice in itself, it’s necessary for miners to carry out these operations in compliance with guidelines applicable to their localities.