The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom has for the first time used its authority to access and investigate multiple facilities suspected of housing unlawfully operating cryptocurrency ATMs in Leeds.
As part of a combined operation with West Yorkshire Police's Digital Intelligence and Investigation Unit, the FCA obtained evidence from multiple locations throughout the city.
Multiple sites in the city that were suspected of housing machines enabling clients to buy or convert traditional currency into cryptoassets, including Bitcoin, were searched for evidence.
Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, Mark Steward, stated:
"Unregistered Crypto ATMs operating in the UK are doing so illegally.
"We will continue to identify and disrupt unregistered crypto businesses operating in the UK.
"Crypto businesses operating in the UK need to be registered with the FCA for anti-money laundering purposes. However, crypto products themselves are currently unregulated and high-risk, and you should be prepared to lose all your money if you invest in them."
Det Sgt. Lindsey Brants of the West Yorkshire Police Force Cyber Team stated:
"Having conducted intelligence gathering work across West Yorkshire, we soon established the locations of several live crypto ATMs.
"Warning letters were issued requesting the operators cease and desist using the machines and that any breach of regulations would result in an investigation under money-laundering regulations. We then shared our findings with the Financial Conduct Authority.
"We are pleased to be able to work in partnership with the FCA in what we believe is a national first here in West Yorkshire."
Crypto ATMs are devices that enable clients to purchase or exchange fiat currency into cryptocurrencies.
Providers of cryptoasset exchange services, including operators of crypto ATMs, must be registered with the FCA and comply with the UK Money Laundering Regulations. This includes crypto ATM operators.
Currently, no crypto ATM operators are FCA-registered.
Prior to this, the FCA warned all operators and hosts of the legal repercussions of failing to register with the FCA.
The FCA collaborates with a number of law enforcement partners, including local police departments, to disable and disrupt unlawful Crypto ATMs.
The FCA will evaluate evidence acquired during these visits and determine additional possible enforcement measures.
By fLEXI tEAM