Nadeam Nahas, a former assistant facilities director in Massachusetts, surrendered to authorities on February 25th, 2023, after a default warrant was issued for his arrest due to his absence at a Thursday arraignment. Nahas is accused of using his position to conceal a cryptocurrency mining setup in the crawlspace of a school. Nahas faces charges of fraudulent use of electricity and vandalizing a school.
Discovery of the Cryptocurrency Mining Operation
According to The Register, Nahas’ boss discovered the mining setup in 2021 while conducting a routine inspection of Cohasset Middle/High School. The director noticed electrical wires, temporary duct work, and numerous computers that seemed out of place. After conducting research and contacting the town IT director, it was discovered that the setup was a cryptocurrency mining operation unlawfully attached to the school’s electrical system.
The Cohasset police asked the US Coast Guard Investigative Services and the Department of Homeland Security to safely remove the machines and determine their origin. After three months of investigation, Cohasset detectives discovered probable cause to charge Nahas with the aforementioned crimes. Nahas resigned his position with the town in early 2022.
Potential Profitability and Costs of Cryptocurrency Mining
Cryptocurrency mining, especially for Bitcoin, requires a significant amount of power, making energy prices a critical factor in determining profitability. A recent report by The Guardian stated that Bitcoin mining uses as much electricity as entire nations such as The Philippines. While mining can be profitable in states with low electricity prices, Massachusetts is not one of those states, according to a 2021 map of average US retail electrical prices. Boston, specifically, has electricity prices significantly higher than the national average, as of January 2023.
Potential Legal Consequences
Nahas entered a plea of not guilty and was released with the condition that he stays away from all public buildings in the town. He is due back in court in May for pretrial hearings and could face up to two years in prison if convicted.
A Reminder of Risks and Legal Consequences
The discovery of a cryptocurrency mining operation concealed in a school crawlspace is a reminder of the potential risks and legal consequences of unauthorized mining operations. As energy prices continue to be a critical factor in the profitability of mining, it is essential to ensure that all mining operations comply with local laws and regulations to avoid potential legal and financial repercussions.