The auction posting said: "[it]… is almost new", the only thing missing was the remote control, and that should have been the first clue that this drone being sold wasn't exactly what you would call legit.
The 24-year old student in Bologna, Italy, must have thought it was his lucky day when he came across a drone that had made an emergency landing near his apartment last October.
The drone, which was a privately operated Microdrones quad-rotor, was owned by an Italian startup called Eye Sky and was used by the company in the past for aerial photographic survey to assist local government. It was also used to perform damage assessment after a 6.0 magnitude earthquake in Bologna last May.
The drone in question was on a demonstration flight last October when it suddenly lost its GPS navigation signals, which resulted in it performing an emergency landing, which is where this student comes in.
Then in a less than brilliant move the student decided to put the $40,000 drone up for auction on Subito.it, an online auction site, for the measly amount of €1,000. At this point the police, who had spent four months trying to track the drone down, poses as buyers on Subito.it and asked for some additional information about the drone.
Using the email address from the seller they were able to connect it to the student, who also used the same email address on an online dating site. Additionally, authorities were able to tighten down the student’s location by examining the EXIF data in the images that he had posted of the view of the city from his apartment.
Needless to say, Eye Sky now have their drone back and the student now faces the possibility of up to a year in jail.
via Ars Technica