UK Regulator Targets Illegal Crypto ATMs in Joint Operation

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The UK financial watchdog and four other law enforcement agencies recently inspected a further 18 crypto ATM sites, “disrupting” 26 machines across the country.

He Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fixed on Tuesday that sites “suspected” of operating crypto ATMs were inspected in May and June in a coordinated operation with the Southwest Regional Organized Crime Unit, Bedfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Policeand the metropolitan police.

The visits were part of an ongoing crackdown on “this illicit sector”, the FCA said, adding that 26 machines operating illegally across the country have been “disrupted”.

This follows previous inspections of several suspected sites in the country, including East London, Leeds, Exeter, Sheffield and Nottingham.

That being said, according to authority,

“From the beginning of 2023, the [FCA] has visited and inspected 34 locations across the UK suspected of hosting crypto ATMs.”

Shut down the machines or face the consequences

According to the case study included in the regulator’s statement, the Citizens’ advice office was contacted by a person who said he had paid £1,000 at a crypto ATM in Sheffield but was unable to purchase crypto, with the machine indicating the transaction was unsuccessful.

The funds were not returned. Store staff were unable to provide assistance or guidance, and the customer was unable to reach the ATM operator through the only point of contact: a phone number only accessible via WhatsApp.

This ATM was closed after an inspection.

UK cryptocurrency exchange providers, including ATMs, must be registered with the FCA and comply with UK Money Laundering Regulations, the watchdog warned, adding:

“Non-compliance can be a criminal offense, punishable by up to 2 years in prison, a fine, or both.”

In March 2022, the FCA Warned Crypto ATM Operators shut down their machines or face enforcement action, saying at the time that “none of the crypto-asset companies registered with us have been approved to offer crypto ATM services, which means any of them operating in the UK will do so.” is doing illegally and consumers shouldn’t be using them.”

Following this latest action, Steve Smart, FCA’s Joint Executive Director of Market Enforcement and Oversight, said that,

“If you use a crypto ATM in the UK, you are using a machine that is operating illegally and may be handing your money over to criminals.”

Smart warned the public that there is no protection if something goes wrong, that they probably won’t be able to communicate with the machine operator, and that they could lose their money.

This is far from the only FCA action against crypto ATMs in the country. You can read more about this below.


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