COPS were stunned to find a Bitcoin "mine" that was stealing thousands of pounds of electricity during a warehouse drug raid.
Officers were expecting to bust a suspected cannabis farm but were met with the advanced tech scam instead.
Suspicions were raised over the huge volume of power being used, leading police to suspect drug production.
Police heard how lots of people were visiting the unit at various times throughout the day and lots of wiring and ventilation ducts were visible.
After a drone picked up on a heat source, cops forced their way into the premises in Great Bridge Industrial Estate in Sandwell on May 18 but didn't find what they were expecting.
Inside, police discovered 100 powerful computers hooked up.
West Midlands Police say the computers were illegally using thousands of pounds of electricity in order to mine Bitcoin on an industrial scale.
It's certainly not what we were expecting.
It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it's only the second such crypto mine we've encountered in the West Midlands.
Most cryptocurrencies have to be "mined" in order to be created, which is a complex and painstaking process done through computers.
However, many computers used to make Bitcoin cost more to run than the value of the Bitcoin they create – making stolen electricity a lucrative illegal business.
Crooks have discovered that Bitcoin can be used anonymously, meaning the unregulated currency is popular with criminals who want to buy drugs and guns.
The IT equipment was seized and enquiries with Western Power revealed the electric supply had been bypassed and thousands of pounds worth had been stolen to power the 'mine'.
Sergeant Jennifer Griffin said: "It's certainly not what we were expecting.
"It had all the hallmarks of a cannabis cultivation set-up and I believe it's only the second such crypto mine we've encountered in the West Midlands.
"My understanding is that mining for cryptocurrency is not itself illegal but clearly abstracting electricity from the mains supply to power it is.
"We've seized the equipment and will be looking into permanently seizing it under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
"No-one was at the unit at the time of the warrant and no arrests have been made – but we'll be making enquiries with the unit's owner.
"We heard how lots of people were visiting the unit at different times of day, lots of wiring and ventilation ducts were visible, and a police drone picked up a considerable heat source from above."
Source: Read Full Article