Twenty-two people have been arrested in Jiangsu province for stealing electricity to mine Bitcoin.
According to the Paper, the power authority of Zhenjiang noticed significantly higher power usage across the city since 2018, and reported their findings to the city’s public security bureau in March. Zhenjiang city police investigated for nearly two months, and uncovered that a syndicate had rented nine factories with computer mining equipment and reportedly stole around RMB20 million in power over the course of their digital mining operation.
The police seized roughly 4,000 mining machines as a part of the investigation.
While it’s not clear how much the power thieves made in profits, Bitcoin Magazine called the case “one of if not the single largest power thefts for cryptocurrency mining ever.”
For cryptocurrency miners, electricity is essential to their operation. Between the computing power and the cooling system needed to keep the machines from overheating, the utility bill tends to be astronomically high, which is why some miners revert to stealing power from other places.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as a whole have endured a rocky relationship with the Central Government since rising in popularity in the PRC around 2013.
Back in 2016, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) planned to issue a sovereign digital currency that was expected to reduce costs and prevent money laundering. A year and eight months later, Beijing ordered all Chinese mainland-based cryptocurrency exchanges to shut down, effectively cracking down on the cryptocurrency movement in China.
In April 2019, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released their Directory Catalogue on Readjustment of Industrial Structure, which named cryptocurrency mining as an industry that should be eliminated in China.
[Cover image via Pexels]