Illegal crypto farm busted as government urges Albanians to save power

Illegal crypto farm busted as government urges Albanians to save power
/ Albanian state police
By bne IntelliNews January 23, 2022

Three people were arrested for mining for crypto currency using stolen power on January 21 as the Albanian authorities seek to reduce power wastage during the energy crisis in the country. 

Along with fellow Western Balkan countries Kosovo and North Macedonia, Albania is struggling under high international energy prices. The country relies almost entirely on hydropower generation, and has to import electricity at times of low production. 

The cold snap in Albania has increased demand for power in the country, prompting Energy and Infrastructure Minister Belinda Balluku to urge citizens to use energy prudently in order to avert a potential energy crisis. 

While Albanians were battling with extreme weather conditions, the Albanian State Police announced on January 21 they had discovered a base used for crypto mining in the port city of Durres using a fake electrical circuit in order to avoid paying for the energy.

In the police operation with codename 'CRYPTOFARM' police seized hundreds of devices in two crypto labs, according to a statement posted on Facebook. 

Police estimated that the group had spent around €1mn to set up the crypto farms. 

Among the items seized were 631 electrical items for cryptocurrency production, 630 solar panels, 260 pieces of power supply electronics, 71 data processing computers, 71 temporary data storage racks, 71 external hard discs and 71 electronic devices for temperature stabilisation. 

Three arrests were made, and four other people are wanted by the police. The detainees have not been named and were identified only by their initials. A 36-year-old and a 26-year-old from Tirana were arrested, along with a 23-year-old from Lushnje. They face charges including computer fraud and concealing income.

In neighbouring Kosovo, the government decided recently to ban cryptocurrency mining in response to the energy crisis and power shortages during the winter months, as cryptocurrency mining uses significant amounts of electricity to power computers that solve cryptographic equations to be rewarded with currency.