An illicit bitcoin mining operation which stole nearly 20 million yuan (US$3 million worth of electricity has been shut down by police in eastern China.
Police in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, confiscated almost 4,000 mining devices and have taken “compulsory measures” against more than 20 criminal suspects after receiving a tip-off from a local power company which had reported abnormal electricity usage.
“In value, it is the largest case in the amount of electricity stolen that Jiangsu has cracked, and a rare sight in the whole country,” Zhenjiang police said in an online statement.
Although China’s digital payments ecosystem has developed faster than most of the world, with mobile payments dominating everyday transactions throughout urban centres, the country’s central bank has adopted a cautious attitude towards cryptocurrencies.
Libra: What can China learn from the new currency?
According to a study last year, cryptocurrency mining consumes more energy per year than many countries – with more than half of mining farms located in China.
Besides electricity theft, other bitcoin-related crimes include hacking of cryptocurrency owners.
In August, police in Xian, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, arrested three suspects for allegedly stealing assets worth 600 million yuan by hacking the computers of people who owned bitcoin and other virtual currencies.