Bitcoin craze hits Iran as US sanctions squeeze weak economy

TEHRAN, Iran — Iranians feeling the squeeze from U.S. sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic's ailing economy are increasingly turning to such digital currencies as Bitcoin to make money.

This has prompted alarm in and out of the country.

In Iran, some government officials worry that the energy-hungry process of "mining" Bitcoin is abusing Iran's system of subsidized electricity.

In the United States, some observers have warned that cryptocurrencies could be used to bypass the Trump administration's sanctions targeting Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

The Bitcoin craze has made the front pages of Iranian newspapers and has been discussed by some of the country's top ayatollahs, and there have also been televised police raids on hidden computer farms set up to bring in money by "mining" the currency.

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