Illicit cryptocurrency mining: House owner, tenants to be brought to court

Technicians inspecting the ceiling to locate the direct tapping cables.

MIRI, May 27: The public is urged to be cautious when renting out their houses as there have been many documented cases in Sarawak where house owners have fallen victim to tenants conducting illegal activities and unknowingly helping them steal electricity as the accounts were still registered under the house owner names.

This advice came following Sarawak Energy’s inspection team and police shutting down another illicit cryptocurrency mine housed in a double-storey semi-detached house at Jalan Muria 4, Pujut 2 here, which is suspected to have stolen at least RM11,000 worth of electricity per month.

According to Sarawak Energy, in a media release today, the raid was carried out at the double-storey semi-detached house following investigations over unusually high loading (consumption), which was likely to have caused frequent power outages in Pujut.

“The customer had initially refused to cooperate, and only allowed the team to enter after a court warrant was obtained.

“At the house, the team found direct tapping cables by-passing the electricity meter, allowing consumption used to not be registered by the meter.

“The unsafe direct tapping cables which can cause fire were hidden in the ceiling of the house to avoid detection,” the statement said.

Upon further inspection, the team found the house was used as a cryptocurrency mining centre after the discovery of exhaust fans at the back of the house which were used to dissipate heat from the mining servers.

“The walls of the server rooms were also covered with box sheets to dampen the sounds from the server.

“Load readings measured on site revealed that the actual consumption should have been at least RM11,000 per month due to the energy intensive mining servers,” it added.

Sarawak Energy said that based on billing records, the electricity account to the house was inactive and the electricity supply had been disconnected since October 2019.

“All tampered cables were seized, and a police report has been lodged for further investigation.

“It is also learned that the house was rented, so both the house owner and tenant will be called for statements to facilitate investigations,” it said.

Investigation showed that the parties involved in stealing electricity had caused nine power interruptions in Pujut and its surrounding areas in April.

“This irresponsible act had led to overloading of the system in the area, forcing emergency shutdowns to make way for load balancing and to facilitate reinforcement works at the substation,” it added.

Sarawak Energy warned that stealing electricity is a criminal offence under Section 33(5) of the Electricity Ordinance, which carries a penalty of up to RM100,000 and/or five years’ imprisonment.

“Arrears amounts will be charged to houseowners who risk being sued in court for failing to pay the amount.

“Sarawak Energy will actively carry out meter inspection throughout the state with assistance from Ministry of Utilities and the police to curb this dangerous crime,” it added.

Members of the public are urged to report any suspicious activities related to stealing electricity in their community to Sarawak Energy’s Customer Care Centre at 1300 88 3111. All complaints and information will be kept highly confidential. —DayakDaily

Direct tapping cables found hidden in the ceiling.
Part of the exhaust fan found at the back of the house.