The headteacher of a school in China has been sacked after eight powerful crypto mining machines were discovered hidden in a computing classroom, eating up the school’s electricity 24 hours a day.
Staff and pupils at the school in Hunan Province had reported a continuous whirring noise to the headteacher, together with a dramatic escalation in the facility’s energy bills, but the head had dismissed their concerns as simply overactive air conditioning and heating units.
When the machines were eventually discovered, the school’s electricity bill had rocketed by more than 14,800 yuan (£1,600) which had been used to mine Ethereum.
It is understood the teacher had been operating one of the machines at his own home, but discovered the cost of electricity outweighed the value of his mined crypto so he decided to tap into the school’s supply instead.
His deputy also became involved, purchasing a machine of his own and hiding it in the school’s computer room with the others.
The illicit mining was discovered by technicians as they attempted to investigate why the school’s network was unduly overloaded.
The deputy was handed an official warning, while the headteacher was dismissed.
The local education authority was handed the proceeds of the mining activities.
On the rise
According to computing expert Thomas Knill-Wright, electricity theft is on the rise – particularly as the value of many cryptocurrencies remains low.
“Once upon a time, mining currency was a reasonably profitable enterprise because the return on the currency negated the high electricity costs,” he told Coin Rivet.
“But the market lows mean that mining is fairly worthless which, in turn, leads people to stealing electricity in order give them a chance at making a return.
“In this particular case though, it’s incredible to think they were able to get away with it for any length of time as these machines are hardly quiet and unnoticeable when active 24-hours a day.”