A 61-year-old grandmother was sentenced by Chinese authorities to four months in prison for stealing electricity while mining bitcoin. Qiuping Tang was also fined for electricity theft at 10,000 yuan (about $ 1,500).
Chinese media reported that a federal court in China’s Hebei Province made the decision pursuant to a lawsuit filed by the Tangshan Power Supply Company. Specifically, between January and October 2018, Tang was charged with stealing about $ 1,300 in electricity while mining bitcoin.
TANG’S PROFITS FOR MINING BITCOIN WAS JUST $940
Bitcoin mining uses a lot of electricity, so it’s no shock that stealing of power is a criminal offence. Authorities say that Tang used stolen electricity to operate four bitcoin mining plants, including one regulator and one mobile device. She earned approximately $940 from her mining activities but ran $1,300 in electricity costs. Tang confessed her crime after being arrested and reimbursed the company for electricity. She also paid the Chinese Treasury a fine of over $ 3,600 in total to settle her case.
THINGS TO NOTE FROM THIS REPORT:
- The fact that a 61-year-old grandmother is so crypto-savvy that she was mining bitcoin in her free time. This is eye opening since the prevailing image is that crypto is mainly popular among millennials. At least that’s the case in the United States and Europe, according to recent research.
- The second thing to note is how harsh the Chinese authorities were on an old woman who confessed her crimes, paid her fines to the government, and reimbursed the electricity company. It’s clear that the authorities wanted to send a signal to other thieves.
Furthermore, CCN reported that China has placed restrictions on mining in the early stages of repeated scams and theft of electricity. Despite repeated efforts to suppress it by the government, bitcoin mining remains quite popular.
In April 2018, police confiscated 600 bitcoin mining computers in Tianjin’s Chinese port city in the largest power theft case in recent years. The alleged theft was discovered after an abnormal increase in electricity consumption was observed by the local power grid operator. An investigation later revealed that bitcoin miners had manipulated the meters with a junction box to avoid being charged for their power use.
And for mining $ 14.5 million in crypto using $ 3.2 million in stolen electricity, a bitcoin miner in Taiwan was arrested in December 2018. The perpetrator apparently was using fake apartment buildings across Taiwan to operate 17 illegal cryptocurrency mining centers.
SOME MINERS MOVED FROM CHINA TO IRAN FOR CHEAPER ELECTRICITY
In fact, stealing of electric power has become so common among China’s bitcoin miners that in 2018 some migrated to Iran for cheaper electricity. Many, however, found the harsh environment unwelcoming in Iran. The government has banned crypto-mining rigs at border checks due to Iran’s generous electricity subsidy. According to Feng Liu, who operates a bitcoin mine holding over 20,000 units of Antminer T9, mining equipment is often confiscated at the border.