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Bitcoin Crime Power

Thieves Steal 600 Powerful Bitcoin-Mining Computers In Iceland (apnews.com) 88

The Associated Press reports of a Bitcoin heist in Iceland where thieves stole some 600 computers used to "mine" bitcoin and other virtual currencies. "Some 11 people were arrested, including a security guard, in what Icelandic media have dubbed the 'Big Bitcoin Heist,'" reports the Associated Press. From the report: The powerful computers, which have not yet been found, are worth almost $2 million. But if the stolen equipment is used for its original purpose -- to create new bitcoins -- the thieves could turn a massive profit in an untraceable currency without ever selling the items. Three of four burglaries took place in December and a fourth took place in January, but authorities did not make the news public earlier in hopes of tracking down the thieves. Police tracking the stolen computers are monitoring electric consumption across the country in hopes the thieves will show their hand, according to an industry source who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to speak to the media. Unusually high energy usage might reveal the whereabouts of the illegal bitcoin mine. Authorities this week called on local internet providers, electricians and storage space units to report any unusual requests for power.
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Thieves Steal 600 Powerful Bitcoin-Mining Computers In Iceland

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  • At USD 2M, I am guessing they are rather large? Or, maybe not.

    • Oh, I forgot how to divide. Each computer is worth $3.3X10^3. They must be ordinary computers with bitcoin cards.

  • Who knew there were 600 computers in Iceland?

    The powerful computers, which have not yet been found, are worth almost $2 million.

    I have a feeling there is some "DEA accounting" going on here. You know the kind: "A pound of marijuana with a street value of over $5 billion dollars was seized today...".

    It's probably more like 30 computers, worth $90,000, and they're probably just stripping out the video cards to sell to gamers on Ebay.

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      2,000,000 / 600 = 3,333.33...

      According to Tom's Hardware, a Geforce GTX 1080 runs between 600 to 1400 dollars. Each. Let's assume two in each machine at an average of 1000 dollars to get some quality gear without going overboard, that's 2000 dollars out of those 3000. Add in mobo, CPU, RAM, a hard drive etc. to have a working computer, which I assume these Bitcoin rigs are, and you quickly approach the 3000 target.

      But hey, math and logic doesn't lead to "OMG corruption!" comments, so you just keep doing you

      • Why go for the GTX 1080? A Quadro P5000 is pushing that sort of price when new. Bitcoin miners do go overboard. They make a lot of money from this, so they invest in the best hardware.
        • by Calydor ( 739835 )

          Because I'm not part of the Bitcoin craze and honestly have no idea what mining them requires other than "awesome graphics cards".

          • So you have no idea what mining them requires, period, because mining Bitcoin doesn't use any graphics cards anymore.
          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            Which is to your credit, although as it happens, "awesome graphics cards" are no longer a good choice for bitcoin.

            Dedicated hardware is used by major bitcoin farms. The high grade graphics cards are used for other scams. I mean, other cryptocurrencies.

            Even there though, your basic economics kicks in. Miners want to optimise purchase price, power costs and output, so super awesome cards don't give the price/performance that stepping down to slightly less awesome cards offer.

      • Let's assume two in each machine at an average of 1000 dollars to get some quality gear without going overboard, that's 2000 dollars out of those 3000. Add in mobo, CPU, RAM, a hard drive etc. to have a working computer, which I assume these Bitcoin rigs are, and you quickly approach the 3000 target.

        How does another $200-300 get you from $3000? They scarcely need any CPU or RAM, the only thing they need is SLI. You can get that damned cheap if you go AMD. And of course you would, because Intel is a security nightmare.

    • That's for seizures, in those cases the police like to inflate the value of the drugs [traileraddict.com] in order to show what a great job they've done. This was the theft from a private individuals (or organisations). It's not so much in the police's interest to inflate the value of goods that were stolen, and that they've so far been able to recover.

      • by Tuidjy ( 321055 )

        Clearly, you've never worked in law enforcement. There are other purposes in inflating the prices of goods. Pushing the crime into a different category that allows harsher sentencing, getting more departmental resources, sheltering your team from extra cases, and what not.

        Back in the 80s, I spent some time as an army 'loan' to civilian law enforcement. I used to feel so superior to them, watching their office politics, and staying above them (mostly, because I had no dog in the fight). What did I know

  • The perps stole 600 GPUs. It was only 100 computers that were stolen, apparently each one with 6 GPUs on there. Translated quote: "There were 600 graphics cards, 100 power sources, 100 motherboards, 100 memory discs and 100 CPUs" -- http://www.visir.is/g/20181802... [visir.is]

    • From that article, it looks like in addition to the 600 server theft (valued at 200 million), the aforementioned 600 GPUs, etc. (valued at 20 million) have been stolen.

    • Maybe they were stolen by gamers frustrated with the high price of gaming GPUs due to cryptocurrency miners driving up the price.
    • So, yet another "bitcoin" story that has fuck-all to do with bitcoin. A bitcoin GPU miner isn't even worth the floor space it occupies.
  • Police tracking the stolen computers are monitoring electric consumption across the country in hopes the thieves will show their hand

    The computers are probably in China already, using cheap subsidized electricity, in a corner of a factory that runs ghost shifts. Good luck monitoring electricity usage to find that.

    • Power in Iceland is pretty much the cheapest in the world due to all their geothermal energy.

      • by mentil ( 1748130 )

        The point is that you plug in somewhere you won't be caught and thrown in prison. China is a much better option than within spitting distance of the crime scene. There are enough cryptocoin mining operations in China (still) that it won't stick out nearly as bad.

  • Here comes another issues which may cause bitcoin value and price to fall
    • by clovis ( 4684 )

      Here comes another issues which may cause bitcoin value and price to fall

      Why would Bitcoin price fall?
      Nothing has changed because theft has long been a common and practical route to obtaining Bitcoins.

      And I doubt that these thieves intend to do mining considering they stole GPU-based miners. Selling the computer parts for Bitcoins would be a quicker route to obtaining Bitcoins.

  • Stolen ASICs produce a merkle root with the illegal flag set so they won't be candidates for a generation block in the blockchain because it's impossible for them to generate a valid nounce. No one want illegal bitcoins, that would be like counterfeit money.

    This explanation shows how ridiculous the concept of 'illegal bitcoins' are.

    • This explanation shows how ridiculous the concept of 'illegal bitcoins' are.

      Which in turn shows how ridiculous the concept of bitcoin is. You don't own anything that someone (usually some government) won't help you keep, use, etc., because someone else will come to take it away from you in short order.

      • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

        This explanation shows how ridiculous the concept of 'illegal bitcoins' are.

        Well, I was making a point that there is no such thing as 'illegal bitcoin', it's stolen computer equipment that is application specific.

        Which in turn shows how ridiculous the concept of bitcoin is. You don't own anything that someone (usually some government) won't help you keep, use, etc., because someone else will come to take it away from you in short order.

        All I have is addresses in the blockchain that someone says is worth something relative to something else. Even if they are worth nothing I still have them. When they are worth something they are a problem for the banking system because no bank fees are earned. That alone is a good reason, but it turns out it's not the best reason.

  • I was hoping to see an ELI5 about crime in Iceland. With only about 335K people and what I'd guess is a decent Scandinavian-style social welfare system and an extremely low GINI coefficient, not mention being an island in the North Atlantic, I would kind of expect crime in Iceland to be very minor, relegated to interpersonal disputes or impulsive, drunken-type behavior.

    Heists? It seems like it would be difficult to create a criminal conspiracy and carry it out when you stand a good chance of running into

    • by Rei ( 128717 )

      Large-scale theft is quite rare here. Even car theft is. That said, it does happen; the rate is not zero.

      relegated to interpersonal disputes or impulsive, drunken-type behavior.

      You seem to know Iceland quite well ;)

  • There does not seem to be any mention of where they were stolen from. Genesis Mining is selling "cloud mining" services in Iceland, so my guess is from them. There are a few articles about them from 2014-2015 at least, mentioning cheap power and available cooling.. Their website lists several coins available to rent mining rigs for.

    So could be Bitcoin ASICs that were stolen, or could be some form of GPU mining rigs. Those GPU rigs typically host 8-12 GPU's on a single motherboard. And Bitcoin is only custom

  • Unusually high energy usage might reveal the whereabouts of the illegal bitcoin mine.

    Or a legal one. Or any of another thousands of possible businesses that require high electric consumption.

    I imagine most thieves would want a quick buck not to be running 600 machines in one place for a long period of time ----
    if they were collaborating and run the miners for themselves, I would suspect run they 60 10x-machine mining operations would be their strategy rather than 1 600-machine operation.

    If those that

  • Quoth TFA:

    the thieves could turn a massive profit in an untraceable currency

    Bitcoin is not "untraceable", else many companies like IBM, Oracle, and a slew of startups would not be selling blockchain analytics tools. There are unraceable cryprocurrencies, like Monero [getmonero.org] and ZCash [z.cash]. But Bitcoin? No.

  • Will they also be looking out for people installing solar panels?

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