Two employees at a Chinese school, the principal and vice-principal, have reportedly been dismissed from their duties for mining Ether (ETH) on school property using the institution’s electricity and facilities.
The two principals are said to have secretly installed mining rigs at Puman Middle School in China’s Chenzhou, Hunan province, stealing the school’s power to mine the cryptocurrency.
Loud noise throughout school
Hong Kong-based news outlet HK01 reported on November 7, 2018, that trouble began when the school community began to complain about the increasingly higher levels of noise from the institution’s computers.
Slowing internet network
Apart from the higher than usual noise levels experienced day and night, including during school holidays, teachers also reported that the institution’s IT network had gradually and notably slowed.
Surging electricity costs
Also worrying was the school’s electricity consumption that had more or less doubled in recent months, beginning in early July as noted by the school’s general manager Lei Mou.
Approached for an explanation, the school’s leaders seemingly brushed it aside, saying that the noise and spiking energy consumption was due to excessive use of air conditioners.
Busted – teachers discover ETH miners
However, further investigations led to the discovery of mining rigs installed in one of the school’s classrooms. More information led to the revelation that it was the school principal, Lei Hua, and his deputy Wang Zhipeng, that had installed the mining machines.
The two had together set up a mining station comprising nine computers, all valued at around $7,000 and that they had been mining ethereum for over three months.
According to HK01, the principal originally thought to place the miners in the school’s dormitory. However, given that the output of the original set of ETH miners was too low, they decided to expand the operation, requiring a bigger room.
Expulsion and released from duties
The news outlet further reports that authorities have expelled the principal and had him relinquish his position both as the school’s principal and the Communist Party local branch secretary.
The deputy principal was warned, while a local disciplinary commission collected the monetary penalties imposed on the two principals.
Cases of unauthorized use of institutional facilities or power supply to mine cryptocurrency have been on the rise. In 2017, authorities apprehended a former Federal Reserve employee accused of mining Bitcoin using servers at the U.S central bank. He was fined $5,000.
Earlier this year, Florida police arrested an employee of the state’s Department of Citrus for mining crypto using official computers.
Still in March this year, the office of the attorney general in the state of Louisiana said it had initiated a probe on a group of former workers suspected to have used facilities at the office to mine digital assets.
In October, a Chinese man was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison and fined for stealing electricity from a Railway station to mine Bitcoin.