One of the world’s largest bitcoin hardware heists has occurred in Iceland. According to Reykjavik police, over 600 computers used to mine bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have disappeared from their data centers, and over 11 arrests have already been made.
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Iceland – the World’s Newest Bitcoin Mining Haven
Earlier this year, Bitsonline reported that bitcoin mining was becoming a major attraction in Iceland – so much, that bitcoin mining was supposedly using more energy than the country needed to power all its residences. That’s a lot of energy for such a small country, even if it does have only 334,000 people.
The mining hardware theft has been dubbed the “Big Bitcoin Heist,” and of the nearly one dozen people taken in for questioning, two remain in custody. Thus far, none of the computers (valued at approximately $2 million USD) have been found or returned.
“This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” says Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, a police commissioner stationed on the southwestern Reykjanes peninsula where two of the robberies occurred. “Everything points to this being a highly organized crime.”
Crime Was Carefully Planned and Timed
The computers were taken over the course of two months via four separate burglaries, the first three of which happened in December of last year.
The fourth occurred one month later in January. Authorities haven’t released the information until now, thinking they would potentially be able to track down the thieves by this time. So far, however, their searches have led to few results.
One of the companies targeted by the thieves was Advania. Primarily operating as a server company, the enterprise was hit by two of the four alleged burglaries. Advania has reported graphics cards, processors and other equipment as taken or stolen.
The business offers customers access to bitcoin-mining rigs, which were also targeted by the thieves.
Look to the Power Grid for New Signs of Mining
At press time, authorities are closely monitoring energy consumption levels across Iceland, granted the thieves decide to turn on or use the computers. Any new activity could place a strain on the current energy grid, which means surveillance groups may be able to monitor where new activity is coming from and potentially find the missing computers.
However, police and lawmakers state that if the computers are used for their original purpose (to mine or create new bitcoins), the thieves could be turning a “massive profit in an untraceable currency without ever selling the items.”
Bitcoin is not, of course, completely untraceable — and while the world still runs on national fiat currencies, the thieves would need to sell large amounts of BTC to realize those profits.
Bitsonline will continue to bring you more on this story as it develops.
Do you think the owners will ever recover their property? Post your comments below.
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