UK FCA is probing 50 crypto operators

The UK financial watchdog is conducting 50 investigations, including criminal investigations, into cryptocurrency operators.

The Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, said it had launched an investigation to prevent the spread of scams and unregulated companies. Notably, the authority indicated that it had conducted 300 investigations relating to unauthorized cryptocurrency companies over a six-month period during the past year.

During that six-month period, which ended in September last year, consumers reported 4,300 potential cryptocurrency scams to the FCA’s ScamSmart site. The Authority noted that this figure is much higher than the 1,600 reports relating to the second most common category, namely, pension transfer frauds.

“The data we released today shows just how widespread scams can be,” said Sarah Pritchard, executive director of markets at FCA. The authority maintains a register of approximately 250 companies that “appear to be engaged in crypto-asset related activities and which are not registered with the FCA for anti-money laundering purposes”.

While it also notes considerable overlap between unauthorized companies and scammers, the FCA said that its registry can only offer a partial picture of unauthorized crypto activity. Last year, the body began pressuring social platforms to reduce their cryptocurrency advertising.

UK officials get tough on crypto ads

Earlier this year, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned two ads. The first of these ads was about cryptocurrency interest rates, while the second was about buying bitcoin instantly with a credit card. The ASA said these two company ads were “misleading because they failed to describe the risk of the investment other than “being irresponsible and taking advantage of consumer inexperience or creditworthiness”.

In response, said the affected ads were removed, saying the ads were intended to “promote the speed with which users can purchase cryptocurrencies on its platform” and not digital currencies. However, the ASA upheld its decision and did not authorize the re-appearance of advertisements in the same format.


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