Google Earth is a great tool but it's easy access to imagery of your backyard also has disadvantages. In the past we've heard thieves used it to locate expensive koi carp, and now a rising trend among authorities is to use Google Earth to detect if you haven't illegally build a pool in your backyard. FOX News reports one of the latest towns to use the tool is Riverhead, a town on New York's Long Island. The town of Riverhead claims it has found about 250 pools whose owners never bothered to get the proper permits, and so far it has collected about $75,000 in fees thanks to Google Earth.
Violators were told to get the permits or face hefty fines. So far about $75,000 in fees has been collected.
Riverhead's chief building inspector Leroy Barnes Jr. said the unpermitted pools were a safety concern. He said that without the required inspections there was no way to know whether the pools' plumbing, electrical work
and fencing met state and local regulations.
"Pool safety has always been my concern," Barnes said.
The same trick is also applied in Greece, where authorities discovered 16,974 swimming pools in Athens' rich suburbs, even though only 324 of these pools were declared.
His staff have become very creative when it comes to tracking down tax offenders: They use police helicopters to fly over Athens' affluent suburbs and make films of homes owned by doctors, lawyers and businesspeople. They use satellite pictures by Google Earth to locate country villas, swimming pools and properties. And these tactics have revealed that the suburbs didn't have 324 swimming pools, as was reported, but rather 16,974.
Tax fraud investigators spent a number of weeks on nightclub parking lots in Athens and noted down the registration numbers of luxury sedans. Their investigation revealed that approximately 6,000 car owners have vehicles worth €100,000, but only reported to the tax authorities that they have an annual income of €10,000.