According to a report from EBC Dongsen News on Wednesday, December 26, Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau arrested a man over charges that he had been stealing electricity to mine cryptocurrencies. The man, who was identified only by his surname, Yang, allegedly mined nearly 100 million yuan (about $15 million) worth of bitcoin and Ether using stolen electricity from 17 different businesses.
Yang's methods aren't made totally clear, but, apparently, he would rent an internet café or a toy store from its owner, then hire electricians to redesign the wiring so that the stolen electricity would not be metered. He continued to pay rent, owners didn't ask questions, and Yang was able to steal up to NT$100 million (about $3.25 million) worth of electricity to mine crypto.
The report states that the Taiwan Power Company, a state-owned utility provider, noticed an unstable power supply in one of the stores, which led to an investigation. Eventually, it was discovered that Yang's own electricians were able to break into the sealed meters in order to add private lines that would use electricity before it reached the meters, according to Wang Zhicheng, deputy head of the fourth brigade of Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau.
Stealing electricity to mine cryptocurrency isn't new. Just last month, Hong Kong news outlet HK01 reported that two principals at a Chinese school were caught using the school's IT network to mine Ether. In March, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Matthew McDermott, an IT manager for Florida's Department of Citrus (FDoC) which oversees the state's citrus industry, used the FDoC's electricity to mine cryptocurrency and purchased 24 graphic processing units to be used for mining with his agency-issued card.
Not to make light of the thievery, although the lengths to which these thieves allegedly go makes it hard to not come across tongue-in-cheek, but with stories like these, it seems there is an incentive problem. Although at one point some thought cryptocurrency was such a good investment that they might have changed career or invested their savings to go into mining, that no longer looks like a wise move. Volatility is at an all-time high and at-home mining is at an all-time low due to it being prohibitively expensive in the bear market.
Regardless of where the market stands, people want to make money, and some are willing to cut corners to do it.