The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) continues its crackdown on crypto ATMs in the country, and has “disrupted” 26 machines since the start of 2023, the financial regulator said in a press release on 11 July.
According to the announcement, since the start of the year the FCA has investigated a total of 34 locations across the U.K. that were suspected of having illegal crypto ATMs, and has so far “disrupted” 26 machines using powers under money laundering regulations. Back in May, the FCA revealed it would begin more intense crypto ATM inspections, and by the end of June had investigated a total of 18 locations. The FCA’s joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight, Steve Smart, said in a statement:
“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. You will not be protected if something goes wrong, and you could lose your money.”
The financial watchdog conducted these inspections together with the South West Regional Organized Crime Unit and the police from Greater London, Bedfordshire, and Hertfordshire. Back in March 2022, the FCA issued a warning to the public that all crypto ATMs in the country were illegal as their operators failed to register with the regulator, and issued a “shut down or face further actions” order. In February of 2023, the FCA issued another ultimatum to operators, ordering them to comply with regulations or wind down their illegal services.
The FCA also gave an example of how crypto ATMs are dangerous to the public, pointing to case in which a member of the public tried to buy £1,000 worth of crypto, and even though the transaction was unsuccessful, was unable to get his funds back. Last week, the Clive Police Department also issued a warning to the public, detailing how scammers impersonated law enforcement officials and used fear tactics to deceive individuals into transferring funds through crypto ATMs.