Tech

Dennis Wafula

Police in China arrest 20 linked to major cryptojacking case

The fight against illegal cryptocurrency mining continues in China, this time with the arrest of at least 20 individuals who police suspect have been part of a mega cryptojacking case. According to Chinese news outlet Legal Daily, over 1 million computers had been affected by cryptojacking activities in the country over the past two years,  with the suspects generating an estimated 15 million yuan ($2.2 million) in the process.

Investigations into the cryptojacking case started earlier this year when a team from Tencent, developers of WeChat, reported to the Weifang City Public Security Bureau about a mining malware hidden in free-to-download plugins. Once a computer owner downloaded an item containing the malware, their computer system would get infected, allowing the cryptojackers remotely use their power to mine cryptocurrencies, according to the report. The malware was designed to run whenever it detected that a computer used less than 50 percent of its CPU power.

Investigations led police officers to the city of Qingzhou where the script developers were found. The Weifang City Public Security Burea handed over the case to the Qingzhou Police,who, in turn, setup a special task force to fully investigate the case.  Previous arrests and prosecutions of suspected individuals in March resulted in theunraveling of the scheme, officials said.

The task force investigations also led to the arrest of some officials of Dalian ShengpingNetworkTechnology who were suspected of being involved in the cryptojacking case. The company allegedly advertised free downloads to 2.89 millioncomputers and selected over 1 million of them for cryptojacking. In total, the police arrested morethan  16 people suspected of running the operation in the company.

The police taskforce also made another breakthrough in April whenthey busted yet another company, Xunbo Network Technology Co. Ltd., for running a cryptojackingoperation. According to reports, the company included the malware in a network management software used by internet cafes in the province of Heilongjiang.  Police arrested three suspects in connection to the operation.

Police reported that the cryptojacking operation has been running for the last two years. During this time, a total of 26 million DigiByte (DGB) coins, Decred (DCR) coins, and Siacoin (SC) were mined. All the arrested suspects have been charged, taken to court and are currently awaiting trial. As of this writting, 11 of the suspects have been released on bail.

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