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Investigators use drones to catch scammers

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#1 Hum

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 09:21

Investigators are taking drones to new heights — using the remote-controlled aircraft to catch New Yorkers cheating on spouses, lying about disabilities and endangering their kids.

“People want you to believe there’s all this negativity associated with drones .?.?. but they could be a very helpful tool,” said Olwyn Triggs, a gumshoe for 23 years and president of Professional Investigators Network Inc. in Glen Cove, LI.

Triggs recently used a drone to find an upstate man suspected of insurance fraud. Signs on his rural property warned that trespassers would be shot, so she sent in her 2-pound, foot-long Phantom?2 Vision quadcopter, which costs about $1,000.

“He was supposedly fully disabled,” she said. “We knew he was active but couldn’t prove it because of the layout of the property. I couldn’t risk being shot.”

So, as a drone hovered above, snapping images of the man chopping wood, Triggs manned the controls from behind a vehicle about 1,000 feet away.

“You need to think outside the box when someone’s acutely aware,” she said, adding the fraudster pretended to walk with a cane. “That’s when you’ll consider using a drone.”

Still, the legality of piloting drones is a gray area.

The Federal Aviation Administration deems it illegal to fly them for commercial use, including film and television.

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