UK watchdog shuts more illegal cryptocurrency 'machines'

FILE PHOTO: Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) signage at the British financial regulatory body's head office in London, Britain, March 10, 2022. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Financial Conduct Authority said on Tuesday it has stopped 26 machines across the country for illegally offering cryptocurrencies, warning consumers they could lose all of their money.

A member of the public paid in a thousand pounds into a crypto ATM in Sheffield, northern England, in an attempt to buy cryptocurrencies, but no cryptocurrency or funds were returned, the FCA said.

The watchdog, in a coordinated operation with other law enforcement agencies, inspected 34 locations suspected of hosting crypto ATMs since the start of this year and "disrupted" 26 machines.

"If you use a crypto ATM in the UK, you are using a machine that is operating illegally and you may be handing your money over to criminals," Steve Smart, joint executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said in a statement.

"You will not be protected if something goes wrong, and you could lose your money," Smart said.

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by David Evans)

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