Ukraine’s main law enforcement agency has uncovered an illegal facility mining cryptocurrency in the Kharkov region. Crypto farm operators are using large amounts of stolen electricity to mint coins, threatening energy supplies to critical infrastructure, the agency said.
Illegal Mining Farm Discovered in War-Torn Kharkiv Region
Officers from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) discovered an underground crypto mining center in the eastern Kharkiv region, the scene of military hostilities between Ukrainian forces and invading Russian troops, and closed.
The operation was conducted by the SBU’s cybersecurity department in cooperation with the Ukrainian National Police and under the supervision of the Kiev-Khoroshyev District Prosecutor’s Office.
According to a press release issued on Tuesday, the cryptocurrency farm consumes unpaid electricity in industrial quantities worth hundreds of thousands of hryvnia (thousands of US dollars).
Ukrainian authorities said the mining operation could have caused serious disruptions to energy supplies to residential areas and critical infrastructure facilities near the front line.
Investigators found that the mining hardware had been installed by several local residents in a rented warehouse near Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. They connected the mining machines to the grid without any authorization.
During the investigation conducted, agents of the Security Service of Ukraine seized computers and special equipment, among other evidence of illegal activity.
As part of the ongoing pretrial investigation, the suspected organizers of the illegal crypto-mining operation will be notified. The case will then be considered in court.
In recent years, Ukraine has become a regional leader in crypto adoption, and the government in Kiev has taken steps to legalize trading with virtual assets. However, crypto mining is still a gray area and requires further regulation.
The SBU has closed many crypto farms in different regions since last year in pursuit of miners abusing the country’s power network. Other illegal crypto-related activities have also been targeted. For example, a number of online crypto exchanges that allegedly send money to Russian wallets were blocked last year.
Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons, SBU