UK watchdog warns crypto firm FTX is unregistered — it could be a scam

Listen to this article.

Bahamas-based FTX has responded to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warning that the crypto firm is operating unauthorized in the country. According to an FTX spokesperson, the phone numbers listed are not authentic and associated to a scam.

A firm called FTX was added to the Financial Services (FS) Register on Friday, which can help inform consumers of potential scams. The FCA website says UK residents are being targeted but are unlikely to retrieve any lost funds because the firm is not a registered company.

According to Bloomberg, a spokesperson for crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried’s firm said that it was looking into the matter but that three phone numbers tied to known scams had been listed in the FS Register instead of its authentic digits.

“We’re looking into it and communicating with regulators; we believe that a scammer is impersonating FTX,” the spokesperson said in an email to Bloomberg.

According to the FCA’s website, three phone numbers are listed in connection with the unregistered FTX. Protos has found all have been flagged several times as a scam across numerous online phone registries.

“This call is a refund scam,” one user reported on a caller identification website. “I was called today […] for a refund of money and they told me to login to the computer and download an application… I refused and cancelled my call…”

Varying responses from people being called by a phone number listed by the FCA as belonging to a firm called FTX.

Read more: UK watchdog FCA warns crypto firms miss money laundering

Other reports say that the scammers are targeting their bitcoin — some have lost their money. One user said scammers by the names of Nicholas J. Martin and John S. Spencer from a company named AML (Anti Money Laundering) called. They said they could help recover funds already stolen by other scammers “by spending a similar amount [in] BTC to show legitimacy of transaction to the blockchain.”

They reportedly said that the “algorithm” would then return the money to the target. It’s assumed the scammers would ask the target for private information to seize the bitcoin.

“Very professional and clever scammers right to the end. Do not trust them,” the comment ends.

The FCA has targeted firms like FTX before

While it’s certainly possible the FCA has indeed flagged a legitimate scam in its Friday filing, FTX is not currently registered with the UK finance watchdog. Failing to do so landed crypto exchange Binance in hot water with the FCA last year.

Binance’s affiliate Binance Markets Limited was outright banned from offering regulated services in the UK after it withheld information regarding where the company is based and how it’s run. Its chief Changpeng Zhao hinted in December the company would work with the regulator to regain its foothold in the region.

As of press time, Binance, Coinbase, and FTX are just some of the crypto firms not registered in the UK.

For more informed news, follow us on Twitter and Google News or listen to our investigative podcast Innovated: Blockchain City.