Kuching cops bust cryptocurrency mining ops with public’s tip-off

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Cryptocurrency mining machines found inside two premises at Uni Central.

KUCHING (July 8): A total of 147 operating cryptocurrency mining machines and equipment worth more than RM155,000 were seized by the police in a joint operation with Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) in Kota Samarahan recently.

SEB in a statement expressed its appreciation to the public for providing information which led to the discovery of electricity theft at two premises in Uni Central.

The raids include the findings of direct tapping cables which had been concealed with fibreboard and cable trunks and were connected directly to premises.

“From the raids, SEB has estimated a loss of approximately RM32,500 per month from unrecorded electricity consumption from the two premises.

“Due to the amount of heat generated, cryptocurrency mining often requires cooling units to prevent its servers from overheating. Non-standard fuses and illegal wiring connections commonly used in electricity theft can lead to short circuits, damaged appliances, fires and loss of lives.

“Such mining activities can also overload the electrical system capacity, causing local outages and inconveniencing those living nearby.

“The mining operators used soundproof foam to insulate the premises and reduce noise from being detected by the authorities. The foam which is made of combustible material can easily catch fire if exposed to extreme heat,” the statement read.

Electricity theft is a dangerous act and a criminal offence under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance, which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years’ jail if found guilty, it added.

SEB will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Utility and Telecommunication, the Fire and Rescue Department and the police to track down those committing the crime.

“The public should also be cautious of service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use or allow premises owner to enjoy unlimited usage of electricity through meter tampering.

“Meter inspection teams are trained to detect various electricity theft methods, including tampered meters, fake electricity meter covers and underground direct tapping.

“Landlords are also advised to be mindful of their tenants’ activities and have their power utility accounts registered under the tenant’s name in order to avoid being implicated in power theft crime,” it said.

Sarawak Energy strongly encourages those with information on suspicious activities related to power theft and on service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity to contact Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at [email protected].