Malaysian police arrest crypto miners for stealing electricity

A group of cryptocurrency mining operators has been arrested by local authorities after bypassing the meter and stealing electricity from SEB

Aerial view of Putrajaya, Malaysia
Malaysian authorities uncovered a series of hidden fixtures that connected directly to the main electricity supply

The Malay Mail, reported that the Malaysian police have tracked down and arrested four cryptocurrency mining operators for stealing electricity from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), the state-owned power firm.

SEB disclosed that the operators had been stealing at least RM250,000 ($60,000) in electricity supply per month.

The illicit activities of the group were uncovered through a joint operation that was launched by SEB, in collaboration with the Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) from the Sarawak Ministry of Utilities and the police.

The joint operation, which spanned over two days, found the illegal activity in mining centers that were located in five different shophouses across Jalan Tun Ahmad Zaidi Adruce, Jalan Pahlawan, and Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman.

A statement from the operation revealed that in all four premises, there were unsafe direct tapping cables connecting the main incoming supply, hidden in the gypsum ceiling, directly to the electrical appliances. This bypassed the meter and skewed its capacity to provide an accurate measurement of electricity consumption.

The checks that were presented showed that the monthly bills for all of the shophouses only amounted to approximately 800RM to 1,000RM, even with mining servers operating around the clock.

Cryptocurrency mining equipment requires a steady and substantial amount of electricity to calculate the computations required to mine a block of cryptocurrency.

“Actual load readings taken on-site showed that all five premises were consuming at least 250,000RM worth of electricity per month,” it said.

The authorities filed five police reports, and removed and seized all unsafe connections for evidence. The owners of the premises would also be called in to assist with the investigations.

Since 2018, the EIU and the SEB have investigated over 50 cases of electricity theft, specifically within crypto mining operators. These cases are now pending prosecution by Sarawak State Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Under Section 33 (5) of the Sarawak Electricity Ordinance, stealing electricity is a criminal offense. Those found guilty of the crime face a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years of imprisonment.

Cryptocurrency trading in the country has surged as the lockdown deals a blow to the local economy. It is estimated that over 2.4 billion ringgit ($553 million) is lost for every day that businesses remain shut in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Luno, Malaysia’s first fully approved digital asset exchange, revealed to the Malaysian Reserve publication that local trading volumes throughout the platform grew by 33% in the month of April.

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