According to reports, 7 men were recently arrested for stealing electricity to mine Bitcoin in the southern state of Malaysia, Johor. The operation was carried out by the Johor Police Department together with national electricity company TNB (Tenaga Nasional Berhad).
Millions worth lost
Bitcoin mining is not a new thing. In fact, it has been a hot issue in the last few years with observers believing that it has passed its prime. However, that did not stop investors from continuing this exercise. The requirements can be quite high considering that one needs to run high-powered computers around the clock with very limited output (Bitcoins). This is why such operations are usually run and managed by large syndicates or groups. The largest Bitcoin mining communities are currently in China.
The suspects arrested were between 24 and 64 years of age and the projected loss of income for TNB was RM8.6 million. It is believed that the mining activities started in 2020. During the arrest, 1,746 machines were seized. The equipment is said to be worth about RM2.6 million. They were operated across 21 different premises and have been going on in the public eye without much detection. This is because they operate on the top floor of a shophouse. Stealing electricity is a common action done by Bitcoin miners who look for ways to reduce their overheads since they need to run many machines all the time. The mastermind of the syndicate is still at large with police investigations still ongoing.
UPDATE: September 2021 – Police destroys bit mining equipment
In a separate incident, Malaysian authorities destroyed more than 1,000 bitcoin mining rigs in July 2021. According to the authorities, the machines were seized before they were laid out in a parking lot of a police headquarters. A steamroller was used to crush the machines which allegedly has stolen more than $2 million worth of electricity.
The operation was carried out by the Miri law enforcement and Sarawak Energy. The event was recorded and the video was posted before going viral. The machines were carried out in 6 separate raids that took place between February and April 2021. In total, 1,026 machines were confiscated believed to be worth about $1.26 million. The destruction of the machines was ordered by the court. Unlike other countries like China where the rigs were auctioned off, the police opted to crush them.