FBI cautions public to stay away from unregistered crypto platforms

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a stark warning to Americans, urging them to steer clear of unregistered crypto money transmitting services. In a statement released Thursday, the FBI, through its Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), emphasized the risks associated with utilizing firms that are not registered as Money Services Businesses (MSBs) under federal law.

FBI cautions public to stay away from unregistered crypto platforms

According to the FBI, Americans should exercise caution and refrain from engaging with crypto services that fail to adhere to anti-money laundering regulations. The agency highlighted the importance of conducting due diligence, advising individuals to avoid platforms that neglect to collect essential know your customer (KYC) information from users.

KYC information typically encompasses personal details such as name, date of birth, and address. By adhering to these precautionary measures, individuals can mitigate the likelihood of inadvertently using non-compliant services.

To assist consumers in verifying the legitimacy of a business, the FBI recommended utilizing a tool provided by the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to ascertain whether a company is registered as an MSB. Notably, prominent crypto firms such as Coinbase and Kraken (operating under the legal entity Payward Financial Inc) were identified through this tool.

The FBI underscored its recent enforcement actions against cryptocurrency services operating without the requisite federal licenses. Individuals who patronize unlicensed crypto money transmitting services may face financial disruptions during law enforcement operations, particularly if their cryptocurrency assets are commingled with illicitly obtained funds.

Furthermore, the FBI cautioned against utilizing crypto services that neglect to request KYC information, signaling potential red flags regarding regulatory compliance. The agency cautioned that apps available for download may not necessarily adhere to federal compliance standards or facilitate lawful transactions.

Emphasizing its commitment to upholding the law, the FBI reiterated that cryptocurrency money transmitting services found to be in violation of legal obligations will be subject to investigation and potential enforcement actions. Utilizing non-compliant services could jeopardize individuals’ access to funds in the aftermath of law enforcement operations targeting these businesses.

As the cryptocurrency landscape continues to evolve, the FBI’s advisory serves as a timely reminder for Americans to exercise vigilance and conduct thorough research before engaging with crypto money transmitting services. By prioritizing compliance and due diligence, individuals can safeguard their financial interests and mitigate potential risks associated with unlawful activities within the crypto space.