Business 7 February 2019Steve Kaaru
Six German suspects arrested for stealing electricity to mine crypto
Police in Germany have arrested six suspects for stealing electricity and using it to mine cryptocurrencies.
The suspects reportedly operated the mining farm for at least a year and a half. In that time, they consumed enough electricity to power 30 households. The damage to the affected electricity supplier is estimated to be around $250,000.
The suspects, five men and one woman, all hail from the German city of Klingenthal in Saxony. According to the police report, the suspects operated a system of 49 computers. They used the premises of PGH Elektro, a now-defunct power company.
Police had received tips about the crypto mining operations some months ago. They had enlisted the help of the mobile task force, prosecutors and tax inspectors to raid suspected buildings in the area. After searching eight houses, they finally found what they were searching for.
Out of the 49 computers that the suspects used, 30 of them had special crypto mining hardware such as ASICs. A total of 80 graphic processing units (GPUs) were in use, a local media outlet privy to the information revealed. To cut down on the inhibiting cost of electricity that comes with crypto mining, the suspects illegally hijacked the electricity bypassing the meter in the premises.
According to the lead prosecutor, Bitcoin Core (BTC) was the main crypto the suspects mined. There were other cryptos, he noted, but didn’t specify which ones. He also revealed that it was the unusually high power consumption in the premises that had attracted the police’s attention.
The crypto mining menace
Since cryptos spiked in prices in 2017, crypto mining has become a global phenomenon. Millions of miners have staked huge amounts of money to set up mining operations, including buying the ASIC chips. However, one challenge has continued to plague them all: the high energy cost.
This has, with time, pushed out those miners that operated from regions with high power costs, such as the U.S. Those from low cost energy regions have flourished, including Canada, China, Iceland and many other Scandinavian countries. Unfortunately, some miners have turned to stealing electricity, and getting arrested in the process.
One of the eye-catching incidents happened last year in China. A crypto miner hacked into a local railway network operator and redirected some of the electricity to his mining operation. The man reportedly stole $15,000 worth of electricity before the railway operator noted the mishap. He reported to the police and after investigation, the suspect was arrested. He was fined $14,500 and ordered to settle for the electricity he had stolen. He was also sent to jail for three and a half years.
Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.
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