SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese police have seized more than 200 computers used to mine the cryptocurrencies bitcoin and ethereum after a man tried to swindle the electricity company to avoid the bills he faced to power his operation, the Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.
A suspect surnamed Ma had allegedly stolen 150,000 KW hours of electricity in more than a month, the news agency reported.
Ma was quoted as telling police in Anhui province he had bought the computers in April but was shocked to learn that his daily power bill was more than 6,000 yuan ($924).
Police uncovered his scam when they found the electricity metre for the suspected cryptocurrency mining operation had been short-circuited, “which was likely an attempt to dodge the power bill”.
China was home to the majority of cryptocurrency mining operations before Beijing last year began to discourage it as part of a larger crackdown on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
It is unclear how much of mining activity has moved offshore or been shut down.
In April, police in the city of Tianjin confiscated 600 mining computers in a similar case.
($1 = 6.4960 Chinese yuan renminbi)
Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Robert Birsel