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The UK’s FCA has shut down 26 cryptocurrency ATMs this year following a coordinated investigation with other law enforcement agencies.
The UK’s financial regulator, the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), shut down 26 of the 34 crypto ATMs it inspected since the start of the year.
Following a coordinated investigation with several other law enforcement agencies using powers under the country’s money laundering regulations, the agency successfully “disrupted” 26 ATM sites it visited and inspected since the start of 2023.
FCA: Comply with Regulations or Shut Down
At the beginning of the year, the FCA warned all illegal ATM operators to comply with its regulations or dismantle their operations.
After issuing the injunction, the regulator inspected 36 crypto ATM sites in Exeter, Nottingham, and Sheffield, which it found operating without FCA registration.
#Crypto ATMs operating without FCA registration are illegal. The action we’ve taken over the past few months and wider work shows that we will act to stop illegal activity. #cryptocurrency https://t.co/KnMhiKAt21— Financial Conduct Authority (@TheFCA) May 5, 2023
Steve Smart, joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, spoke out against the operation of all cryptocurrency ATMs and warned users of the dangers of using unregistered ATMs. He said:
If you use a crypto ATM in the UK, you are using a machine that is operating illegally, and you may be handing your money over to criminals.
Smart further said users of illegal ATMs “will not be protected” by the UK government or ATM operators. He concluded by saying:
We will continue to warn the public and take appropriate enforcement action against unregistered crypto ATM operators.
UK Takes a Tough Stance on Crypto ATMs
Cryptocurrency ATMs gained popularity over recent years and allow users to sell crypto such as Bitcoin and Ethereum in exchange for cash.
The FCA believes illegal crypto ATMs pose a high risk and may be used to facilitate illegal activities such as money laundering. As such, the FCA said it was working with the National Economic Crime Centre in March to develop and coordinate a plan to act against ATMs operating illegally.
Mark Stewart, the Executive Director of Enforcement and Market oversight at the FCA, said at the time:
Crypto ATMs operating without FCA registration are illegal and, as today shows, we will take action to stop this. This operation, alongside last month’s action in Leeds, sends a clear message that we will continue to identify and disrupt unregistered crypto businesses in the UK.
Crypto products are not currently regulated, and they are high-risk. You should be prepared to lose all your money if you invest in them.
The regulator issued several warnings to unregistered ATM providers and ordered them to cease operations immediately, adding failure to comply would result in legal proceedings against them.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.