Russian police arrest 10 for illegal digital currency mining

Russian authorities have put an end to an illegal digital currency mining operation that involved at least 10 culprits. As per a statement by the country’s Ministry of Interior Affairs, the suspects used equipment that understated the amount of electricity they used, operating from eight different locations across the country.

The suspects used abandoned buildings and residential properties to escape prying eyes, the Ministry revealed. They included a former poultry farm in Vsevolozhsk district of the Leningrad region and a recreation center in the village of Roshchino.

The authorities conducted eight searches, seizing over 1,500 digital currency mining machines. They also recovered 2 million rubles ($25,000) and over 100 altered electrical meters. These meters had been altered to underreport the amount of electricity that the operation gobbled up. They also managed to seize a number of smartphones, which according to the Ministry’s spokesperson Irina Volk, had incriminating messages which it will use in court.

The Ministry further claimed that all the digital currencies mined from the operation were sent to overseas exchanges, and then cashed out. In total, the suspects are alleged to have used 15 million rubles ($190,000) worth of electricity monthly which the meters never reported. Authorities arrested the main culprit, a resident of St. Petersburg and nine accomplices who are all awaiting to be brought to book.

This isn’t the first incident in Russia. In December last year, two people were put behind bars for mining digital currencies using government computers. The two allegedly infected the computers with mining malware. One of the suspects “used almost a whole botnet in various regions of the country,” authorities claimed at the time.

In China, a senior engineer at Baidu is set to spend three years in jail after he was caught illegally mining digital currencies using company resources. He is alleged to have made $14,250 from his venture before his superiors called the police on him. Over in Ukraine, an employee of the country’s justice department was busted mining digital currencies at work as well. His operation ran for five months, with the suspect using computer resources meant for the court’s document database.

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