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Malaysia: bitcoin miner causes $2 million loss to a power utility company

  • Power utility company loses $2 million in revenue due to a suspected illegal bitcoin mining operation in Malaysia.
  • The suspected bitcoin miner is on the run.
  • The police seized 317 bitcoin mining machines and other equipment used in the operation.

A bitcoin miner has become a wanted person in Malaysia for allegedly fleecing a utility company of electricity worth millions.

The authorities in Melaka are hunting for a man who is suspected to be behind a cryptocurrency mining operation that caused power company Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) to suffer losses of 9 million ringgit ($2 million).

Operation going on for some time

Local reports suggest that the alleged culprit ran the bitcoin mining activities at 18 premises.

The miner, identified as 26-year-old Tan Joe Pheng, may have been stealing electricity from TNB from as far back as February 2019.

Melaka police chief Datuk Abdul Majid Mohdi Ali asked the members of the public with information about the suspect’s whereabouts to tip off the authorities.

“I urge the public who have information about the suspect to inform the police. The suspect is also urged to surrender to the nearest police station,” said Modhi Ali when he addressed a press conference.

Joe Pheng did not run the alleged illegal mining operation alone.

Six people detained

The police detained six people aged between 29 and 39 including a woman and a man who are said to be Joe Pheng’s siblings. The two served as the accountant and manager of the bitcoin mining operation.

The police raided six premises – in three districts – used for the mining activities and confiscated 317 bitcoin mining machines and various other equipment.

If the bitcoin miner is convicted, he could be handed a 10-year sentence or a maximum fine of 1 million ringgit ($250,000).

There are several cases of bitcoin miners stealing electricity in Malaysia.

Electricity theft in Malaysia

Last month, TNB and the police teamed up to bring down a ring of bitcoin miners who allegedly caused the utility company to lose $2.13 million in revenue.

The police raided 21 premises and seized 1,746 bitcoins as well as bitcoin mining equipment worth $64,000.

There have been several raids on suspected illegal bitcoin mining activities involving the theft of electricity in Malaysia. These operations are costing utility companies millions in lost revenue.

With bitcoin’s price soaring and the broader crypto market enjoying a sustained bullish phase, this could also lead to an increase in case of illegal bitcoin mining and electricity theft.

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