11 Arrested in Iceland’s ‘Big Bitcoin Heist’
In the aftermath of what is now referred to as Iceland’s “Big Bitcoin Heist,” nearly a dozen people have been taken into custody and will be facing charges for the attempted theft of $2 million USD worth of equipment used to mine virtual currencies.
Bitcoin mining is a highly energy-intensive process since it involves the running and cooling of the high-power systems involved.
These computers are powerful and understandably expensive.
With the influx of new Bitcoin mining operations in the energy-rich nation of Iceland, it was only a matter of time before Bitcoin mining equipment became highly valuable assets.
Heist is Part of New Rise in Bitcoin Crime
Bitcoin crimes are on the rise following its growing popularity.
Just last month, two men in Taiwan were violently accosted by four suspects who demanded to forcefully transfer their Bitcoins to their accounts.
According to law enforcement officials, this worrying trend concerning cryptocurrency crimes could be on the upturn.
Following the recent arrests, Icelandic authorities divulged that the operation’s success was due to an investigation that had been ongoing under wraps.
According to the officials, the same group of suspects was tied to a quartet of burglaries pulled off since December of last year, including two on the Reykjanes peninsula.
Local police commissioner Olafur Helgi Kjartansson said that the burglaries appeared to be the work of an organized crime group.
Four Separate Burglaries
According to reports, two of the11 arrestees—a list that includes a security guard—were ordered to remain in custody by a Reykjanes District judge.
So far, four separate burglaries are believed to be conducted by the same group between December 2017 and January 2018.
In all four incidents, a cumulative total of 600 rigs for mining virtual currencies were stolen from various data centers across the island nation, some with crucial data still logged in.
The stolen equipment remains missing for now as Icelandic police continue to monitor energy usage across various regions since the activation of the stolen equipment will inadvertently trigger a spike, then leading the police to their location.
Furthermore, local authorities have instructed power companies to discreetly report any unusual demand for extra power as this could mean a new cryptocurrency mining operation is being set up.
Data Centers Figure Losses
The data centers are counting millions of dollars in financial losses. Luckily enough, however, the equipment had no data stored in them at the time of the theft.
Selling them off would only result in meager profits for the criminal masterminds behind the scheme.
A more profitable strategy would be to actually use the equipment to generate virtual currencies and, in the process, make a tidy profit. Of course, doing so would make it easier for the officials to trace the Bitcoin mining equipment based on where the power spike emerges from.
The availability of cheap renewable energy has certainly made Iceland a Bitcoin miner’s haven, though it is evident that a few negative outcomes have resulted from the increased cryptocurrency mining operations in the country.
Police are hoping that these data centers will not remain prime targets for long, as the potential loss of data and equipment through theft could be significant.
The arrest of the 11 suspects is certainly a step in the right direction, according to authorities.