The cryptocurrency mining industry has been gaining a lot of traction as the market continues to grow in terms of technical development, while regulators around the globe are also starting to accept the emerging industry. However, with the growth of the industry, illegal activities in this sector are also on the rise, and the Malaysian police just cracked down on one such operation.
According to reports from Malay Mail, the Malaysian police recently arrested 4 cryptocurrency mining operators who were allegedly stealing power from the state-own electric supplier Sarawak Energy Berhad, or SEB.
Following a two day investigation, the authorities discovered four shophouses that were believed to be a front for illegal mining operations. The shophouses were located in three cities namely Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, Jalan Pahlawan, and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.
To hide the operations, the culprits bypassed the energy meters and connected the miners directly from the power lines. The shophouses reportedly generated $191 per month in electricity bills, but in reality, the thieves stole over $59,000 per month from the power company.
The Electrical Inspectorate Unit, or EIU, from the Sarawak Ministry of Utilities, revealed additional details about the illegal operation, stating:
“At all premises, it was found that unsafe direct tapping cables from the main incoming supply were hidden in the gypsum ceiling that was connected straight to the electrical appliances, bypassing the meter and avoiding actual electricity consumption measurements.”
Nothing new in Malaysia
Figures from EIU further add that around 50 similar cases of electricity theft has been cracked down on since 2018.
Last year, authorities in Malaysia raided 33 illegal crypto mining operations that stole electricity from major electric utility Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), which resulted in losses worth 3.2 million Malaysian ringgit ($760,736) for the utility company.
In a similar fashion, the mining equipments were connected directly from the mainline bypassing the energy meter. The culprits were paying a bill of only 219 Malaysian ringgit ($52), whereas they were consuming electricity that amounts to 108,000 Malaysian ringgit ($25,674).
Illegal crypto-mining operations on the rise
The news comes a week after authorities is Kyrgyzstan discovered a large scale illegal crypto mining operation at the Free Economic Zone “Bishkek”.
The report alleges that members of the local government organizations and corrupt executives from the FEZ are involved in covering up the mining facility.
The Republic of Abkhazia is also experiencing a surge in crypto mining activities despite a ban on such activities that have been in place since 2018. Customs officials have reported that mining hardware worth over $589,000 crossed the border over the past six months.