Russian caught mining crypto at Covid-19 clinic

An IT specialist working for a medical institution in Russia’s Altai Republic has been arrested for illegally mining cryptocurrency on the premises of a Covid-19 hospital. The man minted digital currencies using stolen electricity for nearly a year before law enforcement blew up his crypto farm.

An employee of the Republican Hospital in Gorno-Altaisk, the capital of the Altai Republic in southern Siberia, was arrested for installing a crypto farm in a medical facility. He had been running the mining equipment since the beginning of last year, Russian media outlets and RBC Crypto reported.

In February 2021, the man, who worked as a chief information security specialist, installed the coin-minting equipment and connected it to servers at the hospital which was previously used to treat patients with the disease. of Covid-19, detailed the Ministry of the Interior of the republic in a press release.

According to a statement from the regional department of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the mining equipment operated for almost a full year with stolen electricity, causing damage amounting to more than 400,000 rubles (nearly $7,000 at the current exchange rate).

The law enforcement agency further noted that the IT expert turned to cryptocurrency mining as he was facing financial difficulties. He soon realized that he lacked the computing power and energy at home and decided to establish mining at his workplace.

During searches of the suspect’s home, police and FSB agents seized mining machinery and other computer equipment. The crypto-miner, whose identity has not been revealed, faces up to two years in prison for his violations of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

The case in Altai came to light amid the growing popularity of crypto mining as an alternative source of income for many ordinary Russians. Minting digital coins in basements, garages, dachas and even government institutions has become common practice, especially in regions with cheap and subsidized electricity, including Siberian oblasts like Irkutsk.

Cryptocurrency mining is not yet fully regulated in Russia, whose abundant energy resources and cool climate are sought after by miners. Measures have been taken to increase electricity tariffs for those who exploit domestic electricity.

In May this year, authorities in Dagestan shut down two illegal crypto farms, confiscating over 1,500 mining machines. One of them was located in a pumping station of the Russian Republic Water Supply Company.

The mining installation had been installed there by a resident of the capital Мahachkala who was in collusion with the employees of the water service. Meanwhile, a crypto-mining facility has also been discovered in the oldest Russian prison in Butyrka. It would have been operated by an assistant manager.

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