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Iceland's Missing Bitcoin Miners May Be In China

Iceland’s 600 missing bitcoin mining machines may be in China, local news reported last week.

According to RUV, Icelandic police have sent Chinese authorities an inquiry after the latter country confiscated 600 mining computers. Police in the Tianjin area reportedly seized the machines after detecting unusually high electricity consumption, per Xinhua News.

The Chinese news agency explained that this may have been the “largest power theft case in recent years,” noting that eight high-power fans were also confiscated. The individuals running the mining farm short-circuited their electricity meter, thereby avoiding receiving a bill for the energy used to power the miners.

Left untouched, the meter would have recorded “hundreds of thousands of yuan” in bills, Xinhua reported.

However, it is unclear whether the machines seized in China have any relation to Iceland’s “Big Bitcoin Heist.” As previously reported, the machines were stolen across several incidents during December and January, and officials have so far had no luck in locating them. A $60,000 reward is offered by the machines’ owner for any information which could lead to the computers.

The alleged mastermind behind the thefts is set to be extradited to Iceland from the Netherlands, where he was arrested after escaping a low-security prison and fleeing to Sweden.

As previously reported, Sindri Thor Stefansson reportedly took a taxi to a nearby international airport and flew out of the country on an aircraft which also carried the nation’s prime minister.

Mining rigs via Shutterstock

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Iceland's 'Big Bitcoin Heist' Suspect Has Been Arrested

Iceland’s now-infamous bitcoin miner thief has reportedly been arrested.

A Dutch police spokesperson confirmed that Sindri Thor Stefansson – who is accused of masterminding the theft of $2 million worth of mining hardware in what’s being called the “Big Bitcoin Heist” – was arrested in the Amsterdam on Sunday night.

Prosecutors are now looking to extradite him back to Iceland, the News Observer reported.

Stefansson walked out of a low-security prison and traveled to Sweden last week, as previously reported. In a letter sent to Icelandic news organization Frettabladid, he claimed he was held “for two and a half months … without evidence,” and kept in isolation during his imprisonment. After his order of detention expired, he left the prison and took a taxi to the airport.

“I simply refuse to be in prison of my own will, especially when the police threatens to arrest me without explanation,” he wrote to the newspaper.

Stefansson did say he wanted to return to Iceland and claimed that he had been negotiating with police to arrange his return. He also threatened to use a fake identification to stay hidden from authorities.

In his letter, Stefansson did not address the 600 computers he was accused of stealing, nor have police given any indication that they have located the missing machines. The owner of the bitcoin mining hardware has offered a $60,000 reward.

The computers were stolen across four separate thefts in what is Iceland’s largest crime to date. Last month, police officials said that “everything points to this being a highly organized crime.”

Police car image via Shutterstock

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Alleged Bitcoin Miner Thief Says Police Held Him 'Without Evidence'

The accused mastermind of Iceland’s “Big Bitcoin Heist” says that he was free to travel when he escaped from a low-security prison and flew to Sweden last week.

Sindri Thor Stefansson has been accused of spearheading the theft of 600 bitcoin mining computers– hardware worth roughly $2 million – during incidents between December and January. Stefansson sparked headlines last week after he left the prison on Tuesday and traveled by plane to Sweden on a flight that he reportedly shared with Iceland’s prime minister.

Yet in a letter sent to Icelandic newspaper Frettabladid last week, Stefansson claimed he held with no evidence for months prior to his escape. He further asserted that the order of detention against him expired on April 16, and that when police attempted to extend his custody by another 10 days, a judge deferred that decision for another day. As a result, during the time of the escape, Stefansson claimed, he was legally free to go.

“I simply refuse to be in prison of my own will, especially when the police threatens to arrest me without explanation,” Stefansson was quoted as writing, adding:

“I have been in custody for two and a half months unsuccessfully, without evidence, but only because of police suspicion. That’s what I’m angry about. I have not been published a single testimony and I was threatened and threatened with longer isolation while isolation took place.”

Stefansson’s whereabouts are currently unknown, though police suspect that he is in Spain, according to Frettabladid. The stolen mining machines are still missing and a $60,000 reward for information leading to their recovery remains in effect.

Stefansson said he wanted to return to Iceland, provided that official affirm his status as a free man at the time of his escape.

“I’m working on negotiating with the police in Iceland that I can get home without being arrested abroad,” Stefansson wrote.

Note: Statements in this article were translated from Icelandic.

Jail block image via Shutterstock

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Bitcoin Mining Hardware Thief Escapes from Prison

The alleged thief behind Iceland’s “Big Bitcoin Heist” has escaped from prison and escaped to Sweden.

Sindri Thor Stefansson, who is accused of stealing 600 cryptocurrency mining computers across at least four separate incidents between December 2017 and January 2018, allegedly flew to Sweden on a flight with Iceland’s prime minister, according to a report from The Guardian published Wednesday.

Police arrested a further 22 individuals as possible accomplices, though it is unclear how many remain in custody.

The heist – which resulted in the theft of an estimated $2 million worth of mining hardware – is the largest in Iceland’s history, as previously reported. At the time, officials called it “a highly organized crime” that was coordinated “on a scale unseen before.”

As such, Stefansson likely had help escaping, local police chief Gunnar Schram was quoted as saying. He told reporters that the alleged criminal “had an accomplice” to help him leave the low-security prison he was being held in and travel to the airport, located some 60 miles away.

The mining hardware has not yet been recovered, The Guardian further reported. The owners of the machines have offered $60,000 as a reward for anyone who can help locate the machines.

While a warrant is out for Stefansson’s arrest in Sweden, his whereabouts are reportedly unknown at this time.

Prison image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.