The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has used its powers to inspect sites in Exeter, Nottingham and Sheffield suspected of hosting illegally operated crypto ATMs, as part of a continued crackdown on this illicit sector. The inspections were part of a joint operation with the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit and the Nottinghamshire Police force.
Therese Chambers, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said:
“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. Besides disrupting unregistered crypto businesses, the joint efforts have helped raise awareness of illegally operated crypto ATMs in the UK among the public. This is especially important as crypto products are high risk and not currently regulated. That means you should be prepared to lose all your money if you invest in them.”
Peter Highway, Economic Crime Unit Manager at the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU), said: “Criminals will use crypto ATMs to launder illegally obtained cash, so we were pleased to assist our colleagues at the FCA in targeting businesses in the region displaying these machines without authorisation.”
Ramona Senior, Head of Economic Crime at the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (YH ROCU), said: “Our Regional Cyber Crime Unit officers are pleased to work jointly with the Financial Conduct Authority and other partner agencies to target the use of unregulated crypto ATMs. Machines such as these are a key component in the facilitation of money laundering and the movement of funds acquired through criminal activity.”
Crypto ATMs allow people to buy or convert money into cryptoassets. There are no crypto ATM operators registered with the FCA, which they must be to operate legally.
The FCA is working with the National Economic Crime Centre to plan and coordinate action with law enforcement partners in relation to operators of illegal crypto ATMs. Today’s action follows that taken in Leeds and East London, where the FCA inspected several premises suspected of hosting unregistered crypto ATMs, alongside regional organised crimes units.
The FCA will review evidence gathered during these visits and consider taking further action where necessary.