Korean Workers Illegally Siphoned Electricity from Factories to Mine Crypto Escaping the sizable electric charges related to cryptocurrency mining has proved to hold a lasting appeal, even after authorities have cracked down on multiple individuals and organizations trying to illegally access electricity all around the world. The latest of these incidents took place in South Korea, where 14 people from 13 different companies were recently arrested for illegally accessing cheap electricity, intended for industrial use, and using it to mine cryptocurrency.
The Gwangju Metropolitan Police Agency discovered that illegal mining activities were taking place in four separate industrial complexes in the South Korean city of Gwangju, in the Hanam Industrial Complex, the Pyeongdong Industrial Complex, the Nano Industrial Complex, and the Jingok Industrial Complex. When it became apparent that the mining activities violated rules pertaining to factory use, police subsequently arrested 14 people this past week.
Although this is nothing new, the sheer scope of these mining operations was noteworthy, as the South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the 14 people arrested by police included personnel from 13 separate businesses. Moreover,
each company had installed between 100 to 350 mining devices in their respective factories and had been mining cryptocurrency since May of 2017.
While the report is somewhat unclear as to whether authorities were informed or not regarding the cryptocurrency mining operations, this would not be the first time that electricity for industrial purposes has been siphoned off to power cryptocurrency mining activities. The amounts of energy needed for industrial uses is so enormous that it can effectively mask cryptocurrency mining altogether, which (although energy-intensive) pales in comparison to industrial energy needs.
The report from Yonhap goes on to add that the energy needs of the industrial facilities were already being subsided, in that they were being charged about 10% less than firms in general areas. They also received lower rentals, which is arguably why South Korean law enforcement is looking to make an example out of the 14 individuals.
South Korea is no stranger to having cryptocurrency miners access subsidized energy to power their mining operations. In August of 2017, an electronics retail marketplace banned all vendors from mining cryptocurrencies in the retail chain’s stores. Furthermore, an electronics shopping mall in the South Korean capital of Seoul followed suit, implementing a ban on cryptocurrency mining activity in the mall’s stores, referring to increased utility bills and potential safety risks.
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