Mining for cryptocurrency can be an expensive proposition — albeit less so if you just go ahead and steal 600 powerful computers to do it for you.
That is exactly what 11 people are accused of doing in Iceland, after a large number of specialized computers were boosted in December and January from data centers in the island nation. So reports NBC News, which notes that while authorities have identified and arrested the individuals they believe to be responsible for the heist, the computers themselves are still unaccounted for.
And while the machines are estimated to be worth around $2 million, the real reward for these cryptothieves may come in a form less tangible than old-fashioned cash: bitcoin. That’s because the computers — if put back to work — could be used to generate the digital coins that at the time of this writing are worth over $11,000 each.
“This is a grand theft on a scale unseen before,” NBC News reports a Reykjanes police commissioner, Olafur Helgi Kjartansson, as explaining. “Everything points to this being a highly organized crime.”
Gotta get those coins.
Notably, this wasn’t a single, large-scale Ocean’s Eleven style heist. Rather, it was actually several different burglaries that took place at several different locations. Two of which went down on the aforementioned Reykjanes peninsula.
Cryptocurrency is often the target of criminals — hackers steal it all the time — but the mining computers themselves haven’t typically presented the same easy prize. After all, breaking into physical buildings to steal physical goods is an entirely different proposition than running an online scam.
That apparently didn’t deter the 11 individuals pegged by Icelandic authorities as having a hand in the heist. Here’s hoping (for them, at least) their lawyers accept bitcoin.