German police have arrested three people suspected of stealing energy worth $248,844 to mine cryptocurrency.
A task force raided eight properties in Klingenthal and found a network of 49 computers illegally hooked up to the power grid, reports Freie Presse.
A group of five men and one woman are believed to have mined Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency for two years, prosecutors say.
The plant consumed as much electricity as 30 households, officers added, and the unusual power consumption pattern was what sparked the probe.
Among the 49 computers found in Klingenthal, 30 were equipped with special cryptocurrency mining software and 80 graphics cards were installed in the system.
Last week, an Indonesian student was arrested in South Korea following suspicions he had been illegally mining cryptocurrency on college computers.
The 22-year-old allegedly set up and operated software that allowed him to mine for cryptocurrency, the Korea Herald reported.
The software in question is ‘HoneyMiner,’ which is a program designed to mine Bitcoin and Monero.
The student is suspected to have initiated HoneyMiner on 27 computers in his college’s common computer room.
Even after his expulsion from the college, the man allegedly continued to run his illicit mining operation on the college computers.
The drop in the value of Bitcoin has made mining the cryptocurrency economically unviable in many countries, according to an analysis by US-based investment bank JP Morgan.
A research team led by Natasha Kaneva found that the cost in power to create a unit of Bitcoin is around $4,060 globally as of Q4 2018, reports Bloomberg. The figure excludes the cost of equipment.
Bitcoin is trading at around $3,700 at the time of writing.
However, miners in nations like China and Mongolia are taking advantage of cheap power and can create a unit of Bitcoin for around $2,400.
The analysts said: “The drop in Bitcoin prices from around $6,500 throughout much of October to below $4,000 now has increasingly pushed margins further and further negative for just about every region except low-cost Chinese miners.”