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UK’s watchdog cracking down on illegal crypto ATM operators

uks-watchdog-cracking-down-on-illegal-crypto-atm-operators
Edited by
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UK’s watchdog cracking down on illegal crypto ATM operators

Using its powers under money laundering regulations, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has raided crypto ATMs suspected of illegally operating across England.

These actions come after previous operations in East London and Leeds, where the regulator issued warnings or cease-and-desist requests to suspected crypto ATM operators.

15 crypto ATMs and counting

The FCA, in collaboration with the South Regional Organized Crime Unit (SWROCU), the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organized Crime Unit (YH ROCU), and the Nottinghamshire police force, conducted joint operations, inspecting sites across England that were suspected of hosting illegally operated crypto ATMs. 

The FCA announced that it would review evidence collected during the raids, which took place at the end of April in Exeter, Nottingham, and Sheffield, before considering further action. Therese Chambers, the executive director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said all crypto ATMs operating without FCA licenses are illegal. She added that their action over the past few months demonstrated their commitment to stopping criminal activity.

CoinATMRadar data shows that there were over 15 crypto ATMs in the UK at the time of the FCA’s crackdown.

Various companies, including Big Sea Coins, BD ATMs, Cryptobitecoin, and Computer House, operated these machines.

However, it is unclear if these operators had been registered by FCA as required by law.

Raising awareness

The FCA’s efforts, in collaboration with law enforcement agencies, have also raised awareness among the public about the risks associated with unregulated crypto ATMs. 

According to Peter Highway, Economic Crime Unit manager at 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 authorization.” 

Ramona Senior, head of Economic Crime at YH ROCU, added that “machines such as these are a key component in the facilitation of money laundering and the movement of funds acquired through criminal activity.”