A town official in Cohasset, Massachusetts, has been accused of running an illegal cryptocurrency mining operation from a crawl space under a school
Assistant facilities director Nadeam Nahas pleaded not guilty to charges of fraudulent use of electricity and vandalizing Cohasset High School.
In late 2021, a janitor noticed temporary ductwork, electrical wires, and computer systems that looked out of place in an “elevated crawl space” near the school’s boiler room.
Police were called and shown the equipment by the facilities director and Nahas, who denied knowing why they were there.
Investigators found six mining rigs inside the crawl space, including several that were inside “coolers” that vented to the outdoors. A further five systems were discovered about 60 yards deeper into the crawl space.
The cryptomining facility ran from April 28 to Dec. 14, 2021, and cost $17,492.57 in electricity, according to a police report.
A three-month investigation, which saw the US Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security drafted in to help, honed in on Nahas as the alleged operator of the mine.
Nahas, a former HVAC coordinator for Plymouth Public Schools, had made several references to crypto on Twitter - but initially told police that he did not have a Twitter account.
Investigators also found receipts from five purchases over April and May 2021 from Home Depot in his name that were used to purchase “Coleman 48qt coolers, insulated flex ducts, extreme weather foil, insulation sleeves, and a water-based sealant tub, all items located in the crawl space and used to facilitate the mining operation."
Nahas is due back in court on May 17 for a pretrial conference.
After initial set-up costs, cryptocurrency miners make a profit based on the difference between the valuation of their virtual currency of choice and the price of the electricity used to mine it.
This has led some to seek out free electricity, either by operating in crawl spaces or by tapping into public electricity.
Last year, Spanish police raided what they believed was an indoor marijuana plantation, only to find it was a crypto site. The Kazakhstan government, meanwhile, is forced to play whack-a-mole as illegal operations sprout up in the country.
Elsewhere in cryptoland
- Oil and gas company Crypto Colo Center Corp wants to build a cryptomining data center just north of McLouth, Kansas. Residents are concerned about the facility, which will run on natural gas.
They point to a similar crypto data center operated by PrimeBlock in Murphy, North Carolina. The constant loud noise of the site has led to some locals saying they would relocate.
- Over in Australia, Mawson Infrastructure Group said that it had closed its facility in Condong, and planned to move 5,376 ASIC miners to Pennsylvania, US. There, it hopes to operate two 100MW and 120MW facilities.
- Finally, in Russia, the government-backed JSC Corporation for Development of the Far East and the Arctic (KRDV) plans to open a $12.3 million cryptomining data center in Buryatia, eastern Siberia.
Built in collaboration with Russian miner Bitriver-B, the facility is expected to grow to 30,000 ASICs and consume 100MW.