Law enforcement in Iceland have arrested 11 people and continue to hunt for $2 million worth of cryptocurrency mining equipment after a total of 600 crypto rigs were stolen from data centers in four separate heists.
The mining rigs were stolen during four separate incidents in December and January at various data centers and have yet to be recovered.
The investigation is ongoing and police are tracking the stolen computers by monitoring electricity consumption across the country in hopes of discovering the thieves. This assumes that those behind the thefts are intending to mine bitcoin rather than resell the equipment to other miners.
By monitoring unusually high spikes in energy usage, police are hoping to uncover what they suspect might be an illegal bitcoin mining operation.
Iceland is home to massive data-centers shrouded in secrecy. One of the best-known and first on the scene in Iceland is Genesis Mining, which set up shop there in 2014.
As one of the most attractive venues for crypto-mining, Iceland’s first new claim to fame is that it’s reportedly using more electricity on crypto mining than it is on households.
Home to cheap and plentiful energy, Iceland produces 80 percent of its power through hydroelectric plants, and its low-energy costs are a boon to Bitcoin miners.
But the criminal underworld is never far behind the latest craze.
It’s not just about steeling bitcoin anymore: If you have the right team in place, stealing the equipment itself can be even more lucrative in the longer term.
And as Iceland grows in popularity due to its volcanic potential to provide cheap and abundant geothermal energy—the biggest cost associated with cryptocurrency mining—it’s a logical venue for attracting criminal elements.
So far, aside from a 2016 heist of 165 crypto mining rigs from a facility in North Carolina, criminal activity has been largely focused on hacking into exchanges and making away with customers’ digital holdings.
Last December, nearly $78 million in bitcoin was been stolen by hackers from the Slovenian-based bitcoin mining marketplace NiceHash.
In January, the digital wallet of Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck was hacked and nearly $500 million in digital tokens were stolen.
In February, Taiwanese police said they suspected four gangsters of violently assaulting two men and forcing them to transfer $5 million in bitcoins into their account.
Also last month, Russian security officers arrested several scientists working at a top-secret Russian nuclear warhead facility in Sarov for illegally mining cryptocurrency inside the facility.
All of these heists have spurred calls for regulating the cryptocurrency market.
By Jan Bauer for Safehaven.com
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