More crypto miners seized in China as police continue crackdown

Police in the city of Tangshan, Hebei, seized 6,890 cryptocurrency mining machines illegally consuming electricity, reported China Central Television (CCTV), the official public television broadcaster.

The report comes after about 4,000 ASIC mining machines were confiscated by Zhenjiang police this July. The suspects allegedly hid the miners in 12 hideouts in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu province. Inspectors said they found the machines after getting a tip from a local power company about abnormal electricity usage in the area.

China launched a nationwide criminal investigation into electricity theft after it discovered that using stolen electricity to power ASIC mining rigs had been rampant for years. Starting in April 2018, local Hebei authorities, in conjunction with state power utilities and other government agencies, carried out inspections on more than 70,000 households, factories, mines, merchants, and communities.

During the investigation, the police first detected suspicious behavior from a private transformer in a compound in a village in Shuangqiao Town, Kaiping District. 

Chen Jingbo, Director of Shuangqiao Police Station, reported the police found two containers containing 1906 ASIC miners during a search of the site. The investigation further determined the suspicion transformer was used to mine cryptocurrencies. As the inquiry continued, police were able to seize three more high-powered transformers and 790 ASIC miners stealing electricity in a nearby village by following up on leads.  

According to the police, a crypto mining machine operating nonstop consumes electricity at rates up to 40 times those of a regular family. The 790 miners seized is the equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 5,000 households a day. As of now, Hebei Tangshan Police have taken 52 high-power transformers and seized 6,890 ASIC mining machines, which could consume as much electricity as around 46,000 households consume in a day.

The value of the electricity needed to run these machines amounts to a multi-million dollar loss in energy. Exactly what authorities intend to do with these ASICs remains unclear. Police said the crackdown on electricity theft would continue. While cryptocurrency mining is not illegal in the country, activities involving stealing electricity to fuel the mining machines and building crypto mining farms built with no approval are prohibited.

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