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Iranian intelligence officials target illegal cryptocurrency miners

Bloomberg reported on Friday that the Iranian government is using intelligence officials to find and stop large-scale farms that have been set up for cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC).

The Iranian Students News Agency reported the testimony of a distribution coordinator at a government grid operator, who said that the Ministry of Intelligence had begun setting up committees around the country to find and seize crypto mining farms.

Iran has recently stepped up its efforts to curb illegal mining of cryptocurrencies after the country’s power grid collapsed due to heavy consumption. The state-run energy grid operator, Tavanir, was forced to restrict electricity in some parts of the country due to increased energy use by miners, resulting in power cuts and reduced street lights.

It is not just large-scale efforts that Iranian officials are eager to stop. A spokesperson for the country’s Ministry of Energy recently reminded citizens that crypto mining at home was also illegal and that if someone was caught doing so, they would face heavy fines.

Cryptocurrency mining is considered a legitimate industrial activity in Iran. It is subject to licensing, and the price of electricity used in the process is controlled by the government. A spokesman for Iran’s Ministry of Energy, Mustafa Rajabi, said that 87% of cryptocurrency mining in Iran was considered illegal.

A useful source of information for the government on the operation of mining farms are reportedly local whistleblowers, who are encouraged with cash prizes to inform authorities of illegal activity. This year, the national grid operator doubled the maximum reward for a successful tip-off, raising it to 200 million riyals ($ 873) – more than four times the average monthly salary in the country.

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