Japanese Police Cracks Down on Crypto Mining Criminal Case

Earlier this year in Jan 2018, Tokyo-based cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck suffered a massive attack with hackers managing to steal $500 million worth tokens from customer’s accounts. Ever since then, Japanese regulators along with its local police have been working round-the-clock to ensure fair trading practices for investors while protecting their interests and privacy.

In yet another crackdown, the Japanese police is investigating three suspects involved with using a Monero-mining software script called Coinhive. On Tuesday, June 12, local news outlet Mainichi reported that this can be a classic case of cryptojacking which can further lead to criminal investigation.

This police investigation will look into the illegal use of personal computers to mine digital currencies. As per the sources, people involved in this case have been alleged with setting up websites to install a program on viewer’s computers without taking permission, and further use their machine power to mine Monero cryptocurrency.

The new outlet said: “If police press charges, it will be the first case in Japan where illegal use of computers in cryptocurrency mining would become a criminal case. The incident is being pursued jointly by multiple prefectural police departments including those in Kanagawa, Chiba and Tochigi in central Japan.”

Three people are currently under the scanner of the Japanese investigative agencies and police for using the Coinhive software and installing mining scripts to websites. Coinhive is supposedly using a JavaScript miner to embed into the websites.

The three suspects include a web-designer and other people who have been allegedly fined ¥100,000 ($900) by the Yokohama Summary Court for ‘illegally storing a computer virus’. However, the defendant has argued that Coinhive is not a virus but just a software script which brings monetization similar to online ad distribution platform.

The Japanese authorities will still be deciding on pressing charges against the individuals for operating websites without clear notices about mining”. This will be Japan’s first cryptojacking criminal prosecution and the criminal case trial will be conducted at the Yokohama District Court.

The local new publication Mainichi detailed that the Japanese investigators are pursuing the case criminally because the installation of the mining program was done without the consent of the computer owners and those machines were forced to function in ways not intended by their legitimate owners.”

It further adds: “Police do not intend to press charges over websites that clearly say they are placing mining software on visitors’ computers.”

It has to be noted that not all uses of the Coinhive mining program are malicious. Last month, UNICEF Australia had launched a website allowing visitors to donate their computer power for mining digital currencies after their consent. this website is said to make use of the opt-in version of Coinhive’s API.