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Australian Police Question Govt. Employees on Crypto Mining Operation

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:05 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:05 PM

Australian federal police are reportedly investigating two employees from the country’s official weather forecasting department over an alleged cryptocurrency mining operation.

Citing sources, ABC News  is reporting that two IT employees from the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) are currently under the federal police scanner for allegedly using the bureau’s predictably-powerful computers to mine cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency mining is process wherein miners are rewarded with coins for creating blocks of validated transactions and adding them to a blockchain. An energy-intensive process, profits are made when rewards exceed the substantially high demands and costs in computing processing power and electricity.

According to the report, officers of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raided the weather bureau’s headquarters in Melbourne on February 28. Two IT employees, in particular, were questioned with one of them currently on leave. The report adds the investigation is currently ongoing, with no charges pressed against any employee currently.

The incident sees the weather bureau involved in a cryptocurrency-related controversy for the second time in under a month. The bureau’s website inadvertently hosted advertisements  for a cryptocurrency scam that had a CNN article purportedly claim that Elon Musk had quit Tesla to launch a blockchain startup invested in bitcoin. The faux story contained links to a number of websites pedaling crypto-related scams. The BOM apologized for the “unacceptable” adverts before promptly suspending a third-party provider responsible for the ads.

Meanwhile, news of last week’s raid on a government department is only the latest instance of a state staffer questioned or investigated over mining cryptocurrencies at the workplace. Last week, the Attorney General of the state of Louisiana opened a criminal investigation into his own IT department over allegations of former employees using state resources to mine bitcoin. Last month, engineers at a top-secret Russian nuclear warhead facility were arrested for allegedly using a supercomputer to mine bitcoins.

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