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FCA continues crackdown on unregistered crypto ATMs


The FCA says it has visited and inspected 34 locations across the UK this year suspected of hosting crypto ATMs. These visits, part of a coordinated operation with other law enforcement agencies aimed at cracking down on this illicit sector, have disrupted 26 machines operating unlawfully. 

The FCA’s joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight Steve Smart said ‘If you use a crypto ATM in the UK, you’re using a machine that’s 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. It is also unlikely you will be able to contact the machine’s operator to resolve any problems. We will continue to warn the public and take appropriate enforcement action against unregistered crypto ATM operators.

Working with the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Bedfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Police and the Metropolitan Police, the FCA inspected 18 sites suspected of operating crypto ATMs across the UK during May and June.

Case study

A member of the public contacted the Citizens Advice Bureau after paying £1,000 into a crypto ATM in Sheffield. When they attempted to purchase crypto with the machine, the machine displayed a message stating that the transaction had not been successful, but no funds were returned. The shop staff were unable to help or provide any guidance.

The crypto ATM’s operator(s) had affixed a contact number to the machine as the only point of contact. The contact was only reachable via WhatsApp, and the member of the public was unable to make contact with the operator to get their funds returned. Following the FCA’s inspection, this crypto ATM is no longer in operation.