FAA Warns of Scammers Charging for Fake Drone Registrations

Registering your hobby drone is easy to do and inexpensive. Unfortunately, scammers are charging unsuspecting UAV owners up to $150 to do so. 

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Recreational drone users are being scammed by fake drone-registration websites that have been charging up to $150 to unsuspecting UAV owners merely hoping to do the right thing.

Registering your hobby drone with the Federal Aviation Administration is a fairly easy, inexpensive process. To do so, one simply visits the FAA’s official Drone Zone website and pays a $5 registration fee. Of course, a large portion of the public is still quite unaware of the process as a whole. With registration once being necessary, overturned, and restored, this confusion among beginners makes a fair bit of sense. Unfortunately, that confusion has been unscrupulously taken advantage of, resulting in a determined FAA hoping to clarify the situation.

The FAA has now issued a warning to recreational drone pilots not to be duped by these nefarious entities. 

“Some attempt to mimic the look of the FAA’s website with similar graphic design and even the FAA logo, or suggest they are somehow ‘approved’ by the agency. They aren’t—and you could be wasting your money,” the FAA explained. “The FAA neither regulates these entities nor will speculate on their legitimacy. However, we have recently received reports of vendors charging exorbitant fees up to $150.00.” 

Some of these vendors have designed clean, impeccable websites that appear to be completely legitimate. Additionally, the process one has to go through often requires visitors to fill out registration forms before receiving a quote, which is so high that the FAA itself has to now publicly denounce these sites as frauds. Add-ons like drone classes or “flight ID” cards are unnecessarily offered as part of various packages, as well.

In an industry that has yet to establish absolute standards regarding federal and state regulations and previously wavered between mandatory and optional registration, the unfortunate truth is that a large amount of hobby drone users have and will be duped by fake authority. One rational idea, of course, would be to require U.S. drone manufacturers to label their products with a simple, informative guideline that points users in the right direction. 

According to Forbes, the FAA says that over 873,000 small drone operators have registered since Dec. 31 of last year. While there’s no telling just how many people failed to properly register and fell for the fake alternatives, it’s likely quite a substantial number.