Right after China slapped a ban on Bitcoin (BTC) mining, the operations have started to spread worldwide and invade not-so-friendly territories. In Malaysia, illegal crypto mining operations are at a record high.
Drastic Rise in Bitcoin Mining
Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Datuk Seri Abd Jalil Hassan revealed that in 2021 alone, Malaysia had 570 investigation papers opened, 528 people arrested, and around $13 million worth of mining equipment seized.
According to the report by Malay Mail, only 20 papers were opened, 26 individuals were arrested, and about $301K worth of equipment was seized. All in all, from 2020 to 2021, there has been a rise of an astonishing 4,200% increase with respect to confiscated items.
The chief reportedly pointed out that the majority of the suspects were between the age of 18 to 30 years old, who he believes to have been lured by the promise of high returns. Interestingly, the oldest offender is 61 years old.
Electricity Theft for Crypto Mining Operation
While Malaysian policymakers have not entirely banned cryptocurrency mining, there are strict laws with regard to power use. As of August 2021, stats show that Malaysia accounts for around 3% of all the global bitcoin miners, placing it in the top ten mining destinations in the world.
But bad actors continue to operate unfazed. The rampant electricity theft in Malaysia has become a major cause of concern. From a period of 2018 to 2019, a total of 7,209 cases of electricity theft has been reported.
According to Hassan, the industrial area surrounding regions of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, and Penang is a hot spot for such crimes. These places provide sufficient power for illegal mining. He also added,
“The suspects find business areas that are hidden so the public won’t hear the noise or feel the heat coming from the mining rigs.”
This isn’t the first time the Malaysian authorities have managed to seize illegal mining rigs. In September last year, CryptoPotato reported that the authorities busted two premises that involved over $600,000 worth of stolen electricity in three years.
A month later, the electric utility company of the Malaysian state of Sarawak – Sarawak Energy – uncovered electricity theft in an unoccupied factory at Kuching. The operation that led to the seizure of more than 1,200 mining rigs was triggered after a tip-off from the public.