Illegal cryptocurrency mining facilities in Russia have stolen electricity worth almost 450 million rubles ($6.6 million) over the past three years, according to the state-owned power grid Rosseti.
The figures were first reported by the grid operator on Telegram and revealed the high cost of “black” mining on its business.
According to the company, the estimates came from illegal mining operations, tempered power meters, and underground mining farms.
The electricity distributor pointed out that many existing businesses in Russia run cryptocurrency mining operations in factories, offices, remote houses, and even in farms only to generate an additional source of income.
These businesses do not have any contract with the local power distributors and are using electricity for Bitcoin mining without paying for it. Rosseti is now hunting for such illegal operations, yet the losses made over the past few years were staggering.
The company also detailed that many facilities just hook a wire to the nearest power lines, stealing electricity, whereas a few even hide their mining equipment underground in the forests to avoid enforcement crackdowns.
Since 2017, Rosseti has found 35 cases of such illegal cryptocurrency mining facilities across 20 regions of the country.
Can regulations curb illegal mining?
Illegal crypto mining has been a headache for the authorities for years. As the price of Bitcoin surges, many jump into mining the digital currency, and to book more profits often try to bypass the electricity costs.
From South Korea to United States, and from China to Ukraine, almost all the countries have seen large scale illegal Bitcoin mining operations.
Last December, the Chinese authorities seized 7,000 illegal Bitcoin miners in a crackdown. The same month, Russian law enforcement also prosecuted two persons for illegally mining Bitcoins on government computers.