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CRYPTOCURRENCY: Police discover huge mine stealing electricity

CRYPTOCURRENCY: Police discover huge mine stealing electricity

Image: SWNS

Police were stunned when they busted a suspected cannabis factory and found an industrial-sized Bitcoin ‘mine’ illegally hooked up to 100 computers.

Officers swooped on an industrial unit after suspicions were raised about the huge volume of power being used and suspected it was a drug farm.

They forced their way into the premises in Great Bridge Industrial Estate in Sandwell on May 18 and found 100 powerful computers.

West Midlands Police say the computers were illegally using thousands of pounds of electricity in order to mine Bitcoin on an industrial scale.

Most cryptocurrencies have to be "mined" in order to be created, which is a complex and painstaking process done through computers.

The IT equipment was seized and enquiries with Western Power revealed the electric supply had been bypassed and thousands of pounds worth had been stolen to power the ‘mine’.

Sergeant Jennifer Griffin said: “It’s certainly not what we were expecting.

“It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it’s only the
second such crypto mine we’ve encountered in the West Midlands.

“My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is.

“We’ve seized the equipment and will be looking into permanently seizing it under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

“No-one was at the unit at the time of the warrant and no arrests have been made – but we’ll be making enquiries with the unit’s owner.

“We heard how lots of people were visiting the unit at different times of day, lots of wiring and ventilation ducts were visible, and a police drone picked up a considerable heat source from above."

Words: Sophie Wheeler, South West News Service


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