School employee charged with secret crypto mining

by Ana Lopez

A former school employee in Cohasset, Massachusetts faces criminal charges after investigators discovered a “cryptocurrency mining operation” under the building. According to the Cohasset police, 39-year-old Nadeam Nahas is charged with fraudulent electricity consumption and vandalism. An arrest warrant has been issued against him after he failed to appear in court.

The Boston Fox 25 reports that Cohasset Middle/High School facilities director discovered the setup in December 2021 and alerted police to unusual wiring and plumbing in a small crawl space under the building. Detectives discovered that the school’s electrical system was illegally linked to a cryptocurrency mining operation.

Crypto mining is the process that creates digital currencies such as Bitcoin. Transactions are verified on a decentralized digital network called a blockchain. Rather than relying on central authorities such as banks to manage transactions, the blockchain uses a distributed network of computers to validate all transactions and keep track of them securely and transparently. The mining process requires computers to solve complex math problems using special hardware and software. Miners compete to solve these problems, and the first miner to find a solution is rewarded with a new cryptocurrency and transaction fees from the verified transactions.

The problem for the environment and the school system of Cohasset (in this case) is that mining requires a lot of computing power. That means high electricity consumption, which generates a lot of heat. Miners in the aboveboard operations have to invest in specialized equipment and pay for those high electricity costs.

After consulting with the city’s IT director, investigators and members of the US Coast Guard Investigative Service, as well as the Department of Homeland Security, removed the equipment for forensic examination.

After what the Globe reported was a three-month investigation, the police identified Nadeam Nahas as their suspect. Nahas, former assistant facilities chief of Cohasset, had resigned as a city employee in early 2022.

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