Cryptocurrency mining operation busted in new and empty commercial shoplot

The team gains entry into the stairwell with a search warrant

SIBU, Nov 24: An unoccupied shoplot registering high energy consumption led to the discovery of a power theft case involving a cryptocurrency mining operation that was occupying two floors of the building near Jalan Bukit Assek.

Following several public tip-offs on suspicious activities at the premises, Sarawak Energy (SEB) utility arm, Syarikat SESCO Berhad (SESCO) and the Sibu police equipped with a search warrant obtained from the Magistrate Court recently raided the shoplot.

The warrant enabled access into a locked stairwell where the team discovered tampered cables used to tap electricity directly from the main supply located at the five-footway (corridor) of the shoplot.

SEB in a statement today said tampered wirings were found hidden behind the cable clip in the ceiling to avoid detection.

Tampered cables found at the premises’ five foot way

“These tampered wirings are used to tap electricity supply from the main incoming cable by-passing the meter, resulting in electricity consumption used not being registered at all.

The unusual high energy consumption was detected when the load reading taken at the distribution board showed energy consumption of the premises was between RM26,000 and RM30,000 per month as opposed to their monthly bill of about RM300 a month since June 2020,” the statement said.

Cryptocurrency mining servers are energy intensive machines that normally operates 24 hours daily, requiring cooling units to avoid the machines from overheating.

All the unsafe tampered wirings and meters were seized for evidence.

A police report has been lodged and the premises owner will be called in to assist in the investigation under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance.

SEB reminded that stealing electricity is a criminal offence which carries a penalty of up to RM1000,000 and/or five years’ jail and customers should not trust any service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use or allow premises owner to enjoy unlimited usage of electricity through meter tampering.

Power theft is a crime and it can also damage electrical appliances leading to fire jeapordising safety and endangering lives.

“On Nov 11, a house in Happy Garden, Bintulu used for cryptocurrency mining activities was razed by fire. Investigation found wirings supplying electricity were tampered with, connecting directly from the mains and by-passing the electricity meter.

“In Oct, a 42-year-old cryptocurrency mining operator and his 48-year-old accomplice pleaded guilty to power theft charges at the Miri Sessions Court. Both the accused were charged under Section 33 (5) for illegally by-passing the electricity meter at a residential house at Jalan Desa Bahagia, off Jalan Pujut 7, Vista Perdana. The operator was also charged with endangering human lives and interfering with electrical installations under the Ordinance,” SEB added.

In another separate incident in April, cryptocurrency mining operations at rented houses caused nine (9) power interruption incidences in Pujut, Miri and its surrounding areas.

All the operators tampered their wirings and had their supply coming directly from the mains, by-passing the meter.

The energy intensive activity overload and tripped the supply system causing power interruptions and inconveniences to other customers in the area.

The Electrical Inspectorate Unit (EIU) of the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak, together with SEB had investigated 95 cryptocurrency mining related power theft cases since 2018, with Kuching (34), Sibu (5), Miri (55) and Bintulu (1).

This year alone Kuching, Sibu and Miri records five cases each and Bintulu with one case.

SEB also advises landlords to constantly be alert over their tenants’ activities so as to avoid being implicated in the power theft crime committed by tenants at their rented premises.

In the meantime Sarawak Energy will continue to actively carry out meter inspection activities throughout Sarawak with assistance from all relevant authorities especially the Ministry of Utilities Sarawak and the Police.

Members of the public may report any suspicious activities related to power theft and on service providers claiming to be able to reduce electricity use. They can do so by contacting Sarawak Energy’s customer care centre at 1300-88-3111 or email at — DayakDaily