Chinese household caught stealing electricity to power its home bitcoin mining operation

Illegally connected cables were running small room of equipment used to earn more of the cryptocurrency

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 11:32am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 April, 2018, 9:37pm

A household in southern China has been caught stealing electricity to power a bitcoin ‘mining’ operation, in the latest example of the country’s appetite for cryptocurrency.

China Southern Power Grid Company said on Wednesday it had uncovered electricity theft at a home in the province of Guangdong that was running power-intensive mining equipment.

It was discovered when local grid workers from the company’s Meizhou municipal branch conducted routine inspections of power cables and found some that were connected illegally, the company said in a post on Weibo, China’s Twitter.

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The cables, hidden in an alley in the county of Fengshun, linked to a household on an upstairs floor.

Mining of bitcoin, the world’s best-known cryptocurrency, is a means by which anyone with suitable hardware and internet access can earn bitcoin by being the first to solve a puzzle and place the next block in the chain – the process by which transactions are verified. 

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Mining a single bitcoin consumes an average of 18,000 kilowatt hours (kWh).

The household’s workshop was relatively small, with 32,940 kWh being confirmed as stolen. According to photographs posted online, 15 mining machines and 56 mobile phones were discovered. 

The grid company did not name the people involved, and police are investigating, local newspaper Yangcheng Evening News reported on Friday.

Bitcoin mining is not banned in China, despite the country’s crackdown on initial coin offerings and trading platforms. 

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It is concentrated mainly in power-rich regions such as Sichuan province at the upper stream of Yangtze River, northwestern provinces that are rich in wind power, and Inner Mongolia, where coal is abundant.