Crypto Miner Arrested In China Over Electricity Theft

Crime, News | June 25, 2018 By:

Chinese authorities have arrested a crypto miner for allegedly stealing 150 megawatt (MW) of electricity.

According to Xinhua news agency, police in the eastern Chinese province of Anhui arrested the suspect, identified by his surname Ma, after being alerted to abnormally high electricity usage by the local power grid’s operator. Ma allegedly mined bitcoin and ethereum on 200 computers, all of which have been confiscated by the police. The suspect allegedly stole 150 MW of electricity in more than one month.

“Hanshan County police found that the electricity meter for the suspected cryptocurrency mining operation had been short-circuited, which was likely an attempt to dodge the power bill,” the report said.

Ma told the police that he bought the hardware in April before discovering that the daily power costs for running the operation – over 6,000 yuan ($923). The police claim Ma’s mining operation was not profitable at the time of his arrest.

The central bank of China closed local cryptocurrency exchanges and banned initial coin offerings (ICO) in September 2017 with the aim of containing financial risks. However, China is still home to a majority of the bitcoin hashrate due to inexpensive electricity and cheap labor in the country.

In January of this year, the central bank reportedly asked local governments to regulate the power usage of bitcoin miners to gradually reduce the scale of their production. The central bank doesn’t plan to shut down mining farms, but to impose limitations on power usage.