UK Crypto ATMs Under Siege: Police Raid Sites as Regulator Denies Approval

Written by Johnson Philip

Several locations in the UK that were believed to be operating cryptocurrency ATMs were recently raided by law enforcement officials in partnership with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British regulatory body emphasized that there are currently no FCA-registered operators for crypto ATMs and that it is actively collaborating with various law enforcement agencies, including local police forces, to halt and dismantle illegal crypto ATM operations.

UK Crypto ATM Sites Raided by Police

In a targeted effort to combat the unlawful use of cryptocurrency ATMs, authorities in the United Kingdom conducted a series of raids in the vicinity of Leeds. The operation, which was carried out by the West Yorkshire Police’s Digital Intelligence and Investigation Unit in collaboration with the country’s primary financial regulatory body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), stemmed from a joint investigation.

The FCA announced Tuesday that it “has used its powers to enter and inspect several sites around Leeds suspected of hosting illegally operated crypto ATMs.”

Emphasizing that “Crypto exchange providers, which includes crypto ATM operators, in the U.K. must be registered with the FCA and comply with the U.K. money laundering regulations,” the FCA stressed: “No crypto ATM operators currently have FCA registration.”

Following the recent raids on cryptocurrency ATM sites, the British financial regulatory authority has stated that it is actively cooperating with various law enforcement agencies, including local police forces, to put an end to the operation of illegal crypto ATMs. The FCA has indicated that it will be assessing the evidence gathered during the raids and will evaluate the possibility of taking additional enforcement measures in response.

In March last year, the U.K. financial watchdog published a warning on illegal crypto ATMs operating in the country. “None of the cryptoasset firms registered with us have been approved to offer crypto ATM services, meaning that any of them operating in the U.K. are doing so illegally and consumers should not be using them,” the regulator cautioned.

Mark Steward, the FCA’s Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight, has emphasized the regulatory body’s commitment to identifying and halting unregistered cryptocurrency businesses that operate within the United Kingdom.

Steward stated that “Crypto businesses operating in the U.K. need to be registered with the FCA for anti-money laundering purposes,” but he also cautioned that investing in crypto products carries high risk, given that such products are currently unregulated. He warned that individuals who invest in these products should be prepared to lose all their money, given the unpredictable and volatile nature of the market.

According to Detective Sergeant Lindsey Brants of West Yorkshire Police’s Force Cyber team, the unit conducted an investigation across West Yorkshire, collecting evidence that enabled them to locate several operational cryptocurrency ATMs.

Brants indicated that the team first issued warning letters instructing the operators to cease and desist the use of the machines, with a caution that any failure to comply with regulatory requirements would prompt a money-laundering investigation. Following the issuance of these letters, the findings were then shared with the FCA.

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