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5 Men Arrested For Stealing 1 Million Yuan Worth of Electricity to Mine Crypto In a China’s Village

Police in Harrbin, capital of northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, has arrested five men suspected of stealing electricity worth over 1 million yuan ( about $0.15 million) to mine cryptocurrencies, according to a report by local media.

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The power authority of Harbin noticed an unusual spike in electricity usage in a small village known as Minquan, during summer months of 2018. But there was no new factory or company that required vast amounts of electricity supply moving to the village over the same period. Then the abnormal electricity usage was reported to the police.

An investigation finally found more than 2000 crypto mining machines running around the clock in an abandoned factory. The report claims that 5 men whose name were not disclosed installed a installed a high voltage detector on a utility pole first, and then connected mining rigs to three  transformers, two 1,000 kV and one 800 kV, in the factory by using the pipe jacking method.

The suspects purchased 14 different types of mining equipment, and stole 1.19 million yuan worth of electricity to mine several mainstream cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, dash and litecoin between July and September 2018. But the report does not reveal the amount of profits  power thieves gained from the crypto mining operations.

Stealing electricity to fund mining operations is not new in China. In November 2018, two middle school principals in Hunan Province were caught and punished by using the school’s IT network to mine Ether. In October 2018, a Chinese man was sentenced to three and a half years in prison and fined around $14,500 after pleading guilty to stealing electricity from the country’s train network to power his bitcoin mining activities, according to a report from technode.

Heilongjiang province has reportedly become a hotbed for crimes of stealing electricity to mine cryptos. According to Chinese news resource Yiben Blockchain, cases of stealing power to fuel crypto mining reached 20 in China over the past year, 9 of which was from Heilongjiang province. The report added that such cases accounted for 12 percentage of 363 bitcoin-related criminal cases in China last year.

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