Crypto miners in Malaysia have been caught after using free electricity worth $600,000.
Law enforcement agents in Johor, Malaysia have apprehended two crypto miners and seized their properties for stealing electricity. The operation lasted for three years and they stole about $20,000 worth of electricity every month.
The Star, a news agency in Malaysia reported on September 1 that the arrest was done by some officials in the neighborhood, Malaysia’s Energy Commission, and Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB). The law enforcers searched two mining farms located in Iskandar Puteri.
One of the regional directors working under Malaysia’s Energy Commission, Nazlin Alim Sadikhi, revealed that one of the two apprehended operators possessed 100 rigs which have been working continuously for the past three years. The second one had 48 rigs and has been mining crypto for the last two years. The operators obtained the electricity cheap because instead of paying about $20,000 for their usual monthly consumption, they ended up paying $7 to $14.
“We found that illegal wiring was installed so that electricity was supplied directly and not through the TNB meter.”
In Malaysia, it is not a crime to mine or trade cryptocurrencies but people have taken that liberty to mean something else by frequently tapping from the government’s electricity supply to mine Bitcoins.
Malaysia’s constitution clearly defines the punishment to be faced by these fraudulent crypto miners. Section 37 of the Malaysia’s Electricity Supply Act says they are supposed to spend ten years in jail or pay $1.2 million but according to the Star, there would be some consideration if the court finds them guilty. Instead of paying $1.2 million, they will pay $240,000 but the other option of going to jail for ten years is not negotiable.
Mohd Satari Mohamad, an engineer with TNB, recalls that 90 mining units like the ones raided have been seized in 2020 alone. Counting from 2018, there are 288 confirmed cases of electricity theft for crypto mining. In June 2019, TNB took stock and found out that they lost more than $25 million to electricity theft. In one of their raids, they found 33 mining farms that stole $760,000 worth of electricity from it.