Authorities in China have seized close to 7,000 Bitcoin mining machines in their latest crackdown on the industry. The machines were consuming electricity illegally, a report by state-run media outlet CCTV has revealed. The authorities were conducting investigations into electricity theft, inspecting over 70,000 households for the exercise.
By now, you know that the most prohibitive cost in Bitcoin mining is electricity. This has forced miners to shift to areas with low energy costs such as Iceland and Canada. However, for some, the answer has been stealing electricity.
The report by CCTV indicates that the investigation into illegal electricity usage started in April last year. Hebei Tangshan Police conducted the investigations, partnering with power supply companies and other state departments. Together, they inspected over 70,000 households in at least 1,470 communities and villages.
What they found confirmed their suspicions. The report indicates that they found and seized 6,890 ASIC mining machines as well as 52 high-power transformers. The miners were stealing electricity from a nearby village, the police alleged. Further, the equipment was running 24 hours a day.
The report claimed that “consumption of electricity for one day of continuous operation is equivalent to the electricity consumption of more than 5,000 households a day.”
The Mining Risk
Mining Bitcoin is a lucrative venture, that’s without a question. However, greed has seen some miners go to extremes like stealing electricity, cryptojacking and using government resources for their activities. Unfortunately for many, they have ended up on the wrong side of the law, with consequences including hefty fines and jail time.
China has been especially tough on illegal crypto mining. The authorities have been stringent on the miners, arresting and jailing several people in the past few years. One of the more famous cases was that of a 61-year-old grandmother who went to jail for mining Bitcoin with stolen electricity. Known as Qiuping Tang, the woman was sentenced to four months in prison in May this year for her crime. She also had to pay a $1,500 fine. The interesting thing is that she had only stolen $1,300 worth of electricity, showing you just how serious China is about cracking down on illegal crypto mining.
Russia is also not playing around with illegal crypto miners. In October, it sentenced a nuclear scientist to three years in prison for illegal crypto mining. The scientist was mining Bitcoin using federal equipment.