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Increased Power Usage Leads to Mistaken Pot Busts for Bitcoin Miners 411

c0lo writes "The Canadian town of Mission, BC has a bylaw that allows the town's Public Safety Inspection Team to search people's homes for grow ops if they are using more than 93 kWh of electricity per day. There have allegedly been reports floating in IRC of two different cases of police showing up at a Bitcoin miner's residence with a search warrant. Ohio police and the DEA file at least 60 subpoenas each month for energy-use records of people suspected of running an indoor pot growing operation. DEA Agent Anthony Marotta said high electricity usage does not always mean the residence is an indoor pot farm and has surprised federal agents. 'We thought it was a major grow operation ... but this guy had some kind of business involving computers. I don't know how many computer servers we found in his home.'"
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Increased Power Usage Leads to Mistaken Pot Busts for Bitcoin Miners

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  • by stoicfaux ( 466273 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @05:47PM (#36233022)

    Great, just great. I can see the calls for banning solar energy technology since it allows drug lords to escape detection via electric meters.

    Just imagine the rhetoric: "Only pot-farmers use solar energy." "Support HB123 to place export controls on drug energy technology to Mexico!" "Off grid, on drugs!" "Tell the police if your neighbor has gone wireless!"

  • by SaroDarksbane ( 1784314 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @05:55PM (#36233126)
    I assume you meant "than they ever will gain mining bitcoins."

    If that's the case, it's hard to say what their expected ROI will be. I know that in my case, I already had a 5850 in my machine (a very good mining GPU) and thus, with a little bit of luck I've 'mined' 150 coins in a month. At the current exchange rate, those coins would we worth ~$1000 dollars if I cashed out now, and I really only paid for electricity. Depending on the hardware they bought, and when they started (the difficulty has really ramped up in the last couple weeks), they could be sitting on a nice payout, assuming they aren't dumb enough to try dumping them all onto the market at once.

    For my part, I'm interested in bitcoins as a viable currency and not just as some bizarre experiment in cryptographic "stock" to dump when I need some extra spending cash, so I expect I'll be holding onto mine until I can get some actual goods with them.

    (Also, I hate the term 'mining'. It's really more like 'accounting', but it's probably too late to change anything.)
  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @06:06PM (#36233210) Journal

    Yes BC has a serious problem with grow-ops

    In what way are grow-ops a problem? The only possible problem I can conceive is that there aren't enough of them. I know that's not the case in BC.

  • by VortexCortex ( 1117377 ) <.moc.edargorter- ... . .xetroCxetroV.> on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @06:35PM (#36233492)

    I think it's high time we think about extending the 2nd amendment (Right to bear arms), to include technology.

    I know they're not busting in to raid a Bitcoin factory, but that doesn't mean they wont in the future.

    I'm a coder, and occasionally I write ciphers. Lately I wrote a block cipher system that takes any hash algo, data stream, and a pass-phrase, and produces encrypted output via a type of Cipher Block Chaining on hash-length sized blocks (MD5=160bit, SHA1=256bit, SHA512=512bit encryption, and beyond; Bonus, any new hash comes out, implement it and bingo, stronger encryption).

    I came very close to being in violation of federal law when I posted my program on my blog. Fortunately a friend told me that my program was considered extremely dangerous to the government, and that if anyone outside of the US downloaded it, I could be heavily fined and/or jailed. I immediately removed the code, and checked the server logs; Fortunately only my friend had downloaded it.

    I didn't know that all strong encryption ciphers have to be registered with the US government [] (like firearms!? -- Strength at or above 64bit symmetric or 768 asymmetric, or 128 for elliptic curve), and that export of software that can perform encryption must be approved by the government before you put it online, or else it could be considered trafficking illegal controlled software.

    I was told by some that if your code was open source, you could just fill out a form, and you were pre-approved, but I don't think that's the case anymore. []

    I've been tinkering with ciphers since I was 10 -- I don't think anyone outside the US got a hold of my tinker-code, but who knows? We swapped code at HAL-PC SIG's all the time...

    With today's government's lack of respect for our freedoms and esp. digital privacy, I think it's time we added the right to bear technology & math, esp. cryptography to the Bill of Rights.

    Hey, If I can be prosecuted for distributing my ciphers under the "munitions export restrictions" laws, then does that mean I already can assert my 2nd amendment privileges to USE MY PC TO TWIDDLE BITS? Does freedom of speech (1st amendment) not give me the right to post some byte-code hex to my blog? (Looks like it's illegal to sell your Beowulf Cluster on Ebay too. [])

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @07:30PM (#36234028)

    "The pothead next door, while annoying with his brain-damanged music tastes and lack of valuable employment"

    I now you were just being colorful and hyperbolic, but I feel that I should let you know that, if I am the pothead next door to you, it is statistically probable that I make more money, work harder and am in better shape than you. If people like me were safe to "out" themselves as potsmokers, your stereotypes would crumble.

  • Yeeash! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by brit74 ( 831798 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @09:40PM (#36235122)
    I saw some of the comments saying that the article reads like an advertisement for bitcoin, so I took a look. Holy crap! They even embedded a promotional video for bitcoin in the article. The bitcoin guys are really, really trying to make millions off this, and they're obviously pushing these pseudo-news-articles to drum up fame and fortune. And, just to be clear, the claim that the police raided a home was based on a rumor seen on an IRC chat ("Blogger Mike Esspe captured an IRC chat that supports the rumor floating around that at least one bitcoin miner has been arrested."). Uh huh. That's news now. And despite the claim that "at least one bitcoin miner has been arrested", the IRC chat actually says the police showed up, looked around, and left. Apparently, "has been arrested" has a totally new meaning in the pseudo-news-article world of bitcoin.
  • by Time_Ngler ( 564671 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @10:01PM (#36235246)

    I know somebody that has a rig that does 1700 million hashes per second and uses 1000 watts (using 4 ATI 6970's). If you plug it into here, you'll find he nets an average of $1450.89 per month considering electricity at $0.15 per kwh []

    I decided against doing it myself because the miner growth rate is so high right now. It's around 5% a day, which means if it continues at the same rate, in 3 months it'll be more like $170 per month for his rig.

    Here are some charts showing the growth rate: []

  • by DCFusor ( 1763438 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @10:08PM (#36235280) Homepage
    Don't laugh at this one. My computer consulting firm, deep in the boonies, was raided as a drug operation. It wasn't but in talking to them we discovered that having solar panels was part of the profiling done on us, as it indicates "pot growing". Which of course is stupid. We do run on solar, but it's way not enough to grow pot in any amount worth it. That's what they make the rest of the boonies for -- outdoors. FWIW, the profiling was: Has domestic disputes (I prevented a suicide and they knew that) People come and go (employees) People at all hours (we called it flex time) Those people look rich and happy (it was a great place to work, and high pay) Owner rarely leaves (no need, my business is on the same campus as my house) Owner is rich (see above) Just because the DEA is stupid, doesn't mean it doesn't cost a lot in court fees to make them go away, and the damage they do they never pay for. And due to all those rarely enforced laws on the books, they'll by golly find SOMETHING to bust you for once they've done their "dynamic entry" - count on it.
  • by uvajed_ekil ( 914487 ) on Tuesday May 24, 2011 @11:46PM (#36235896)
    Anti-pot propaganda alert!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Yes, maybe it is possible that cigs are "less damaging" than weed, when compared toke for toke. But how many cigs does the average tobacco addict smoke every day, 10? 15? Many smoke much more than that. Pot is strong these days, right? So how much, by weight/mass/joints, do typical potheads smoke every day? A hell of a lot less than 10-15 joints. If it is of high quality, probably less than the weight of one cigarette. Ounce for ounce, yes, MAYBE ganja is worse than tobacco, but aside from rastafarians no one (not counting all the wannabe gangsters who claim to smoke 75 blunts a day) consumes THAT much herbage a day.

    Think about it: heavy tobacco smokers light up every 30-60 minutes if they can, while dope aficionados don't get high more than a few times a day, often less, and shouldn't need a fat cigarette worth per person every time, so this is not an apples-apples comparison.

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