Cryptocurrency mining has gained a lot of recognition and has become an industry of its own. With the increasing price of bitcoin, the mining industry as caught the attention of many tech-savvy investors as a passive source of income. However, since the industry remains mostly unregulated, illicit activities have also increased, the most common of this sort being electricity theft.
Recently, the Malaysian police in the state of Jahor have arrested a gang of seven people that allegedly stole 8.6 million Malaysian ringgits ($2.15 million) worth of electricity to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Authorities managed to seize a total of 1746 bitcoin mining rigs, spread across 21 premises. The police had carried out raids in all these properties between February 15 and February 16 according to local media outlet the Malay Mail.
According to the police, the suspects aged between 24 and 64 were local residents and were nabbed for stealing power from domestic power company Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) since 2020. Last year, the company suffered a loss of around 90 million ringgits ($22.5 million) from power thefts related to bitcoin mining.
“The syndicate, which has been active since the beginning of last year, carried out its activities on the top floor of a shophouse to avoid detection by the authorities,” said Johor’s police chief, Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.
However, there more than what meets the eye. Khan added that the investigation is still underway and the masterminds behind the massive operation, along with other gang members, remain at large. He continued:
“Investigators are not ruling out the possibility that the syndicate also has links with syndicates in other states that carry out the same modus operandi used in their bitcoin mining activities.”
The Mining problem in Malaysia
Electricity theft for cryptocurrency mining purposes has become a serious problem in Malaysia and TNB isn’t the only victim. As previously reported by The Daily, last year, the Malaysian police arrested 4 cryptocurrency mining operators who were allegedly stealing power from the state-own electric supplier Sarawak Energy Berhad, or SEB. The culprits stole over $59,000 per month from the power company.
According to Electrical Inspectorate Unit, or EIU, from the Sarawak Ministry of Utilities, since 2018, more than 50 similar cases of electricity theft has been cracked down on.