Tech

Dan Taylor

Police in China discover locals stealing oil well power to mine BTC

Energy theft for mining SegWitCoin BTC is nothing new. But reports emerging from China show the extreme lengths some people are going to in order to scam their way to free energy for crypto mining.

First reported in Chinese tabloid The Global Times, police were called to respond to a complaint of theft of energy from Daqing Oil Field in Heilongjiang province, the largest oil field in China.

After the matter was brought to the attention of the Green Grassland Police Station of the Qiqihar District Public Security Bureau, an airborne investigation was conducted using drones to uncover the source of the theft.

Sources close to the case told the Chinese news outlet that the aerial investigation yielded the results the authorities required to establish a criminal investigation, though no formal suspects have as yet been announced.

The investigation revealed a series of cables laid which had been laid through fish ponds which were harvesting energy from the oil facility illegally. It is unclear whether police have any suspects in their sights, but further investigative work is underway to establish more details about the case.

There is no indication of the reported scale of the theft as yet, but there is recent precedent for similar scams running into the millions of dollars.

In Taiwan, arrests were made in 2018 over an electricity theft scam used to mine $14.5 million of SegWitCoin BTC and ETH, while in February of this year, a number of suspects were arrested in Germany in connection with a $3 million operation powered by illegal energy.

While the use of cabling through fish ponds was no doubt an ingenious ruse, it shows the extent of criminality some are prepared to indulge in to mine cryptocurrencies like BTC.

BTC mining has been under pressure in recent months through a combination of increasing energy costs and depressed trading conditions. This could in part be behind the clear motivation of some miners to mine without the cost base.

The investigation comes as the latest challenge for authorities in China, as with authorities elsewhere, in the battle to fight back against criminality around BTC mining.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as SegWitCoin BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins. Altcoins, which value privacy, anonymity, and distance from government intervention, are referenced as dark coins.

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