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Malaysian Miners Caught Stealing $59k in Electricity

Electricity lines

September 22, 2020 | 

983 Views | 

JOHN K MWANIKI | 

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The illegal Bitcoin mining power consumption is becoming a concern in Malaysia. This follows the latest reports where five miners stole $59k in electricity every month. They got caught in a joint raid organized by Malaysia's Energy Commission. This was in partnership with Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIT) and the local officials. 

The reports established that the operation has been on for a long time. The miners have been using a scripted installation bypassing the meter. It involved four shop houses with active mining activities. 

The EIT reports the miners masked their operations, bypassing the meter measurement units. It indicates the miners tapped cables from the primary power source to appliances. The connection is hidden from the source using a gypsum ceiling.

The mining centers would remit a total of $215 per month in power usage. They also found a way to beat the local energy meters. The raid lasted for two days uncovering illegal operations in 3 locations. The operators are currently in custody awaiting prosecution. 

Other raids have since followed this case. The police raided two premises in Klang for suspected electricity theft. The authorities have intensified the raids with more to come. 

The History of Illegal Electricity Consumption in Mining in Malaysia 

The Malaysian Bitcoin mining electricity theft is a long-running issue. The country has put in place several measures to help curb the problem. Local reports indicate the illegal connections have cost the state $25.3 million by 2019. The numbers have since gone up, with several new cases of electrical theft coming up. 

The country has already recorded over 500 cases of electric theft over the years. The most rampant of the places being the state of Selangor. 

The country has put in place several measures to help curb the theft. The Malaysian national utility firm, Tenaga National Bhd (TNB), is leading crackdowns. They have partnered with several Malaysian authorities for the project. 

Theft of electricity comes with hefty charges. The Malaysian Electricity Act, section 37, provides for a maximum fine of $24k or up to 3 years imprisonment. Thefts involving any other place other than domestic installation attract a maximum of $1.2m fine or ten years imprisonment. 

The supplier can disconnect power for a maximum of three months. It, however, allows the firm to backdate power charges for up to 5 years. This helps in collecting the amount of stolen power within the years. 

Bitcoin Mining Electricity Theft Menace Worldwide 

Electricity theft in the digital currency mining is nothing new in the industry. Several countries supporting the country have been struggling with the issue. 

The countries have reported stolen electricity over the years. Some have seen the perpetrators sentenced. 

  • China is one of the countries with top theft issues. It is a lucrative country for miners due to its lower charges on electric power. One of the most significant cases of electric theft in China was in 2019. The cases involved over $3m in stolen electricity. The raid saw the police pull down over 4000 Bitcoin mining devices. Other China cases have seen a man use a fish pond disguised to steal electricity from an oil well. The police busted over 20 rigs of mining devices. 

  • Germany – Germany has also had inroads with the cryptocurrency mining issue. Even though not rampant due to the high cost of power. The miners have to look for other ways to make it profitable.In one of the cases in Germany, the forces arrested six crypto miners. The conduit spread around several farms with over 49 mining computers. The cost of the lost electricity in the venture was over $249 843, equal to the consumption of 30 households. 

  • Taiwan – Taiwan's crypto mining electricity stealing is like German's. The country, even though with less widespread mining, has had cases of massive electricity theft. One of the daring moves saw a crypto miner steal more than $3m worth of electric power for Bitcoin and Ethereum mining. The operator in the same period had made profits of over $14.5 million from Bitcoin mining.

Cryptojacking 

Other entities and private organizations also struggle with the mining electric theft. Cryptojacking has risen in recent times. It involves Bitcoin miners targeting powerful computers to mine unknown to the user. 

The miners run some malware on the background. They get the user to click malicious links on emails or run loaded JavaScript on websites. The presence of the malware is hard to detect as they run in the background. It, however, slows down the computer and heats it.

Managing Cryptojacking is not easy. Only the very best of technical personnel tend to remove the malware. They are ever in the knowhow on creating and implementing new techniques. Unlike other malware, the crypto mining ones don't interfere with the user files or data. They only compete for computing power

You keep safe by regularly observing your computer operations. Take note of lagging speeds or auto rebooting. Also, consider installing Anti-virus and other malware protection.

Bottom Line

Crypto mining is a lucrative venture. With Bitcoin increasing in value, the venture keeps on attracting new miners. Not even Bitcoin halving can dampen the prospects of more mining.

For some time, mining cryptocurrencies was easy. One only needed a CPU. It has been becoming more technical over time. It currently requires special machines. 

Other than being expensive, the machines are power intensive. The electrical costs are too much for any miner. That has seen an increase in power theft. The thefts are particularly rampant in countries with low-cost electricity like China. 

The energy units are clamping down on illegal connections. The case of the Malaysian trader caught stealing $59k per month in electricity is one among many. There is more to expect as miners still join the fray while the government seeks to ensure payments for output.

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