County employee charged with hiding Bitcoin mining underground at work and racking up $ 6,000 electric bill

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Investigators grew suspicious after county internet systems slowed down and office needed air conditioning repairs

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A New York County employee brings new meaning to energize your work.

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The IT supervisor reportedly incorporated cryptocurrency mining into his workspace, draining what could turn out to be tens of thousands of dollars in energy costs from a Long Island local government office.

Christopher Naples now faces a host of charges, including public corruption and grand larceny that could send him to jail for 15 years.

Mining cryptocurrency, such as Bitcoin, requires networks of computers to calculate the numbers, resulting in sky-high electricity costs. While miners could use a personal computer to find Bitcoin in 2009 when it was started, the system keeps the amount of Bitcoin production stable by making it more difficult as more miners join the industry. Today, mining rigs require tens of thousands of dollars of investment.

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Naples is said to have hidden some 46 machines under the floors, walls and disused electrical panels of the Suffolk Country Center in Riverhead, New York. Initially, officials calculated that only 10 of the machines in use since February racked up US $ 6,000 in electricity bills.

The remaining units are likely to cost thousands more, Timothy Sini, the Suffolk County District Attorney, said at a press conference this month. To charge at the same rate would mean a total of about US $ 30,000.

“We are talking about a huge amount of energy,” Sini said. “Not only do we have thousands of dollars of taxpayer dollars to fund this operation, but it also puts the county’s infrastructure at risk.”

Investigators became suspicious after the county’s internet systems slowed down and the office air conditioning was repaired. Mining rigs generally give off enormous amounts of heat.

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The amount of energy spent globally on cryptocurrency mining is estimated at 91 terawatt hours per year, more than all of Finland’s consumption, according to the New York Times. This prompted environmentalists to protest against the currency’s adoption. But it also faces regulatory hurdles in many countries, concerned that criminals are using its cross-border fluidity to launder money while escaping scrutiny, low official exchange rates and traditional bank charges.

Still, some countries are attracted to Bitcoin. El Salvador this month became the first country to accept it as legal tender. Laos said this week that it wants to encourage mining operations on its territory because it has a surplus of hydropower. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has suggested similar possibilities. Traders in Vietnam, Brazil and Nigeria use it as many in emerging economies seek to avoid weak local currencies, inflation, inept regulation, and slow banking systems.

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But in developed economies, the scrutiny is intensifying as the use of cryptocurrencies disrupts the financial system, exposing consumers and markets to potential dangers, such as hacking, uninsured losses and scams. .

In August, hackers stole $ 600 million from a cryptocurrency platform, PolyNetwork, though they eventually returned it after the company promised them a $ 500,000 reward and a job. It is not known if the position was accepted.

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The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has set up a special office to monitor cryptocurrency developments and propose regulations. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen have expressed serious concerns about cryptocurrencies.

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In Canada, several organizations are discussing how to regulate or incorporate currency, including the Bank of Canada, the National Research Council and the owner of the exchange, TMX Group.

Cryptocurrencies in Canada are currently treated as an investment in securities, such as in a stock or a bond. And this has caused a crackdown on platforms that are not registered as traders; Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, pulled out of Ontario in June. The Alberta Utilities Commission ordered a miner to shut down due to noise complaints from neighbors.

Back in Suffolk County on the eastern end of Long Island, it’s unclear how much Bitcoin Naples may have actually hit. He doesn’t have a job, but there might be a job open at PolyNetwork.

Naples was released on its own accord. This appears to be the current state of the cryptocurrency industry in general: with the expectation of good behavior, but also in the face of suspicion.

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