Local Chinese news outlet HK01 reports that teachers at Puman Middle School in Chenzhou, Hunan Province have been caught mining Ethereum on school property. The operation went on for the last several months and did not go entirely unnoticed – people had complained that the computers in the school were making an awful lot of noise.
The mining operation apparently even bogged down the school network, making it hard for teachers to do their jobs. Eventually the teachers sought answers and uncovered the mining rigs pictured above.
By way of explanation, the Principal and Vice Principal, who were accomplices in the enterprise, had moved the operation to the school because their electricity bills were getting too high. Principal Lei Hua lost his job in the debacle while Vice Principal Wang Zhipeng was let off with a warning.
Hua went into detail about how the machines came to be placed at the school. Initially he’d spent over 10,000 yuan on his first rig and quickly realized it was using too much energy, so he moved it to the school dormitory. He later spent another 40,000 yuan buying seven more rigs and found that these would not fit in the dorm, so he moved them into the school proper. In total, the mining operation incurred more than 14,000 yuan (around $2,000) in extra electricity bills for the school.
Not The First or Last to Steal Energy for Crypto Mining
Zhipeng and Hua are far from the only public servants in the world to ever have used public resources for private pursuit of cryptocurrency.
An employee of the Federal Reserve was once caught mining Bitcoin for years, between 2012 and 2014, on government servers. He paid a fine of $5,000 and caught 12 months probation.
An administrator with the New York Department of Education got away with it for far less time, mining only at night in 2014. Being a union employee, his fine was more interesting: four vacation days worth about $600.
Florida’s Department of Citrus had a similar incident with its IT manager, who was caught when the agency called for an investigation into its unusually high utility bills.
At least six people were fired in Louisiana over a similar breach of trust.
In Australia, two employees of the official meteorological service were involved in a Bitcoin mining operation involving the service’s powerful computers.
Civilians steal power too. A man in China was arrested for tampering with his power meter and effectively stealing energy to power at least 200 mining rigs.
And these are just some examples.