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UK Regulator Descends Upon Illegal Crypto ATMs in Latest Raid

Sarah Wynn
Last updated: | 1 min read
Source: Financial Conduct Authority website

The UK’s financial regulator, along with local police, descended upon illegally operated cryptocurrency automatic teller machines (ATMs) as part of a continued crackdown.

The Financial Conduct Authority inspected sites in Exeter, Nottingham and Sheffield to stop the illegal activity, the regulator said in a statement on Friday.

“Crypto ATMs operating without FCA registration are illegal,” said FCA’s Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight Therese Chambers in a statement. “The action we’ve taken over the past few months and wider work shows that we will act to stop illegal activity.”

Chambers called crypto high-risk and said they are not currently regulated.

The FCA said it worked with the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit and the Nottinghamshire Police force on the inspections. 

Criminals use crypto ATMs to launder illegally obtained cash, said Peter Highway, economic crime unit manager at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit. 

The FCA said it will gather evidence and consider taking further action following the inspections. 

Crypto ATMs around the world 

Crypto ATMs allow people to buy or convert money into crypto, and the FCA says no crypto ATM operators are currently registered with the agency.

There are 17 bitcoin ATMs in the UK., according to Coin ATM Radar

In the U.S., there are upwards of 29,000, according to that site, with the majority big cities such as Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles. 

Past raids

The FCA raided several properties around Leeds suspected of having illegal crypto ATMs in February

Those raids were believed to be part of the UK’s first crackdown on illegal crypto ATMs, according to the FCA’s announcement at the time. 

The UK has also cracked down on other sectors within crypto. 

In February, the FCA said all crypto firms marketing to UK consumers, including firms based overseas, will need to comply with a new UK financial promotions regime.