The main Ukrainian law enforcement agency has smashed a facility for illegally mining cryptocurrencies in the Kharkiv region. Operators of crypto farms have been minting coins using large amounts of stolen electricity, threatening the energy supply of critical infrastructure, the agency said.
Illegal mining site found in war-torn Kharkiv region
Officials from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) have discovered and shut down an underground crypto mining center in the eastern region of Kharkiv, the scene of a military hostilities between Ukrainian forces and invading Russian forces.
The operation was carried out by the SBU’s cybersecurity unit in cooperation with the Ukrainian National Police and under the supervision of the Kyiv Khorosiv District Prosecutor’s Office.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, cryptocurrency farms consume industrial amounts of unpaid electricity, worth hundreds of thousands of hryvnia (thousands of dollars).
Ukrainian authorities said mining operations could cause severe disruptions to energy supplies to residential areas and critical infrastructure near the front lines.
Investigators revealed that several local residents installed the mining hardware in a rented warehouse near Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv. They connect miners to the grid without any authorization.
During the search, agents of the Ukrainian Security Service seized computers and specialized equipment, as well as other evidence of illegal activity.
Organizers of suspected illegal crypto mining operations will be notified as part of an ongoing pre-trial investigation. The case will then be reviewed in court.
Ukraine has become a regional leader in cryptocurrency adoption in recent years, and the Kyiv government has taken steps to legalize virtual asset trading. However, crypto mining needs further regulation as it remains a grey area.
Since last year, the SBU has been going after miners who tapped the country’s electricity network and shut down some crypto farms in various regions. Other illicit cryptocurrency-related activities have also been targeted. For example, some online cryptocurrency exchanges that allegedly sent money to Russian wallets were blocked last year.
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Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, SBU
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