China is a Bitcoin mining powerhouse, but the nation’s government isn’t always pleased with the way miners carry out their activities. A total of 77 Bitcoin miners have been arrested over the course of the last twelve months, including an Anhii province family that was running an illegal mining farm until authorities detained the miners in late November. The charge? Electricity theft. The family had reportedly used the electricity to mine enough Bitcoin to pay their family expenses for the next eight years.
The miners were allegedly hijacking power from the Bengbu Tianhu Power Company, via a cable that they used to connect their operations to a starter box located in their village. The power company learned of the theft through an investigation it launched in response to an unexplained surge in its electricity line loss rate – a surge that saw line loss jump from 5% in May, 2016 to 97% in November. Company officials and local police were able to follow that cable to the miners’ basement center of operations.
The family was arrested, joining 74 other miners who were detained earlier in 2016. The authorities have also shut down the illegal Bitcoin mining operation and seized its equipment. It’s the fourth mining site to be closed by the government this year. Like this family, those other arrests were also related to electricity theft – a crime that can result in severe criminal penalties in China.