Police bust cryptocurrency miners stealing $370,000 electricity every month

A shot from inside the cryptocurrency mine stealing up to $370,000 worth of electricity each month
A shot from inside the cryptocurrency mine stealing up to $370,000 worth of electricity each month Photo credit: Security Service of Ukraine

An illegal cryptocurrency mining operation has been busted by Ukraine's security service after stealing up to NZ$370,000 of electricity per month.

The mine - including 3800 games consoles - was found in an abandoned warehouse in the city of Vinnytsia, around 260km from the country's capital of Kyiv.

Police found and seized the consoles along with 5000 computers responsible for the processing power needed to mine.

The electricity being stolen was at a level where power surges were a possibility, leaving people without electricity, the police said.

Fake electricity meters were used to try and disguise the level of stealing. Police are still trying to identify everyone involved in the mining operation and are investigating officials from the company who used to operate the warehouse.

The energy consumption involved in the creation of bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, was the reason cited by Tesla CEO Elon Musk when he decided to withdraw the option to buy cars using it.

Inside the cryptocurrency mine
Photo credit: Security Service of Ukraine

He said, via Twitter, that the electric car company would reconsider accepting payments once miners used 50 percent renewable energy.

The process of mining is how new cryptocurrency can be created and gained without buying it. At its most basic level, miners receive the currency as a reward for the computer processing power used to solve complex problems and record data to the blockchain.

In May, UK police raided an industrial unit in the West Midlands expecting to find a cannabis farm - but found an illegal crypto mining operation stealing electricity instead.

Bitcoin currently consumes around 110 Terawatt Hours of electricity per year, which is about half of one percent of total global electricity production, roughly equivalent to the total power of Sweden or Malaysia.