The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) discovered a large coin minting facility in Vinnytsia that was illegally connected to the power grid. Law enforcement officials claim that this is the largest underground encryption mine they have discovered so far.
Ukraine confiscated thousands of video game consoles to steal electricity to mine cryptocurrency
The SBU, the main Ukrainian law enforcement agency, announced this week that it had exposed a large-scale power theft in the city of Vinnytsia in central-western Ukraine. The stolen electricity is used to mint digital coins, which officials say is the country’s largest illegal cryptocurrency farm discovered so far.
The agency stated in a press release on its website that the mining facility was built in the former warehouse of JSC Vinnytsiaoblenerho by residents of Vinnytsia and the capital, Kiev. They can conceal the theft from the distribution company using meters that do not show the true energy consumption.
During the search of the crypto farm and its operator’s residence, law enforcement agencies seized nearly 5,000 mining hardware, including 3,800 game consoles, more than 500 graphics cards, and 50 processors. The announcement detailed that the agents confiscated documents related to power consumption, laptop computers, mobile phones, and flash drives.
Under the supervision of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, the operation was jointly carried out by the SBU National Economic Interest Counterintelligence Protection Department, the Vinnytsia Region SBU Office and the main national police investigation department.
Illegal mines in Vinnytsia steal up to $250,000 in electricity
At the time of writing, preliminary estimates issued by the Ukrainian authorities indicate that the power loss caused by illegal mining operations is between 5 and 7 million hryvnia, which is approximately US$183,000 to US$256,000. Officials added that excessive consumption may cause power surges and blackouts in surrounding areas.
The SBU has initiated criminal proceedings for unauthorized use of electricity. Investigators are now trying to find out who is behind the illegal crypto mining activities and are trying to verify whether employees of JSC Vinnytsiaoblenerho are also involved.
The news of Vinnytsia came after Ukrainian law enforcement agencies closed an illegal mining farm in Chernihiv Oblast last week. The facility is powered by electricity stolen from the local grid. During the raid on the rented warehouse, the authorities seized 150 energy-burning mining machines at a price of $110,000. In early June, SBU discovered a crypto farm with 350 mining machines in Dnepropetrovsk Oblast. These mining machines were illegally connected to the grid and consumed more than $70,000 in electricity.
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