Friday, September 18

Sesco busts illegal cryptocurrency mining centre for power theft

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A Sesco technician removes the direct tapping at the incoming mains wirings, witnessed by EIU and police personnel.

KUCHING: Sarawak Energy Berhad’s utility arm, Syarikat Sesco Berhad, together with the Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) of the Ministry of Utilities and the police raided an illegal cryptocurrency mining centre occupying two floors of a shophouse at Uni Central commercial centre for stealing electricity recently.

The special executive action was carried out after a search warrant was granted by a magistrate to access the business premises for suspicion of power theft following months of surveillance and public tip-offs.

The suspicion over the premises came about when the business operators blocked access to the common area of the stairwell with a grille door covered with aluminium sheets.

The entrance was kept locked, preventing Sesco personnel from accessing the area where the meters were located.

In the raid, the team discovered that the premises was without any electricity meter and supply was tapped directly from the mains wiring to the premises’ distribution board on the second floor, which also supplied the premises on the first floor.

The direct tapping was concealed in the concrete ceiling to avoid detection. However, Sesco technicians are well-trained to detect various tampering methods.

The electricity consumption measured from the direct tapping cables was significant, estimated to cost at around RM10,000 per month based on the 24-hour usage to run the mining servers.

All the tampered wirings found at the premises were seized for evidence and a police report was lodged immediately.

The business owners were called in to assist in the investigation and will be brought to court.

Stacks of cryptocurrency mining servers found at the premises.

Apart from illegal electricity connection, the operators also violated Section 87 of the Building Bylaw for obstructing the common area of the stairwell.

Based on Sesco’s records, this is not the first power theft case involving cryptocurrency operators.

Earlier this year, 12 electricity meters belonging to cryptocurrency operators in Miri were seized.

Sesco is in the midst of bringing the cases to court through the State Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Following the rise in illegal cryptocurrency mining outlets in the state, Sesco will closely monitor this activity and will continue to carry out joint operations with the police and EIU to curb this dangerous crime.

Sesco also advises landlords to always be on alert on their tenants’ business activities, to avoid the owners getting implicated in the crimes committed by the tenants operating within their rented premises.

Those found guilty of stealing electricity will be charged under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance, which carries a penalty of RM100,000 and/or five years’ imprisonment.

Sesco seeks public cooperation to continue reporting suspicious electricity theft activities via its dedicated hotline at 082-443535. All information will be treated strictly confidential.