Taiwanese law enforcement arrested a man on charges of stealing electricity to mine cryptocurrency worth millions, according to an EBC Dongsen News report.
The person with surname Yang had stolen electricity worth more than NT$100 million ($3.25 million) by mining Bitcoin and Ethereum. He profited almost the entire amount as electricity cost is the primary operational cost for crypto mining.
The report detailed that Yang tapped 17 store premises to set up mining rigs. According to the police, he would first rent an internet cafe or a doll shop and then set up an illicit mining operation upstairs. He hired electricians to redesign the electricals so that his usage did not get billed.
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Illegal cryptocurrency mining has become a grave concern in Taiwan. Wang Zhicheng, deputy head of the Fourth Brigade of the Criminal Bureau in Taiwan, said: “Employees with an electrical background destroy the seal in the meter and then [escape] from the meter’s private transfer line to avoid meter flow.”
Cryptocurrency mining rigs need to compute complex hash algorithms to receive digital coins as a reward. These rigs generally consist of dedicated GPUs, consume a massive amount of electricity, and operate around the clock. They also need an excellent cooling system as a tremendous amount of heat is dissipated during mining. As a result, it gets tough to make a profit from mining especially with the rising competition and decreasing cryptocurrency prices.
Yang’s case was surfaced as the Taiwan Power Company, a state-owned electricity provider, noticed an abnormal electrical surge in certain areas.
This is not the only case of such electricity theft for crypto mining, and Taiwan is certainly not the only country. Earlier this year, Chinese police initiated criminal investigations against six persons for operating illegal cryptocurrency mining and stealing electricity.