Investigating Stolen Jewelry via Facebook Groups and eBay

Timothy R. Primrose, Mobile Forensic Analyst

Digital platforms are not just for social interaction.  Tech savvy users are finding creative ways to leverage platforms like Facebook for solving crimes and resolving legal disputes.  Netflix’s 2019 Don’t F**k With Cats true crime documentary series is a prime example of a collaborative effort between civilians, via Facebook group, to identify the person behind an anonymous account posting graphic videos of animal abuse.  Similarly, AppleTV’s 2022 true crime-inspired miniseries Black Bird shows how users in a Facebook group dedicated to revolutionary war recreation provided investigators with evidence to corroborate a killer’s presence in the victim’s city on a specific date.

Digital forensic experts are adept at utilizing online platforms as potential sources for information relevant to various types of investigations.  By accessing additional user data through subpoenas or forensic software, these experts are equipped to further advance investigations.  The following case study details how a criminal was caught after a Mobile Forensic Analyst with DJS Associates uncovered a thread of posts on Facebook and eBay in connection to stolen items.

Case Summary:  An elderly couple living in a gated community arrived home and found their house ransacked.  All their jewelry was among the items missing, including a pin that belonged to the husband, commemorating his 40 years of working at a company.  

Pawn shops in the area were alerted of the burglary and provided a description of the company pin in the days following the incident.  While the couple waited to hear if any of their jewelry items turned up, the couple’s son began monitoring online marketplace platforms like eBay.  His efforts were eventually successful when he found a listing for the unique company pin that had been stolen.

After confirming that the company pin appeared to match the one stolen from the elderly couple, the family’s legal counsel retained DJS Associates to investigate how the eBay user behind the listing had come to possess the item.

Expert Analysis:  Starting with the eBay listing, the Mobile Forensic Analyst worked backwards to piece together the following timeline of events. 

Two weeks following the burglary, a user joined a public Facebook group primarily focused on admiring and appraising jewelry.  The user published a post in the Facebook group that included pictures of many jewelry items, one of which showed the distinctive company pin.  Another group member commented on the post, offering a substantial amount for the full lot.  Upon receiving the items, the buyer listed several unwanted pieces on eBay. 

DJS Associates located contact information for the user who had listed the company pin on eBay.  After the elderly couple’s legal counsel reached out, the user removed all listings pertaining to the stolen items that were identified, including the company pin, and returned them to the elderly couple.  The eBay user also provided the Mobile Forensic Analyst with access to their Facebook account in order to request a copy of their messages and group activities directly from Meta.  This ensured the preservation of the conversations between the eBay user and the seller regarding the jewelry posted in the Facebook group.

Result:  Satisfied to have their jewelry back, they decided against pursuing legal action for the theft and requested that DJS Associates supply documentation of the thief’s online activities to local law enforcement. 

Categories: Digital Forensics | Mobile Forensic Analyst | Timothy R. Primrose

Tags: Burglary | Digital Evidence | eBay | Facebook | Online Marketplace | Stolen Items


Have A Question About This Article or Want to Contact the Expert?

Request An Expert

Fill out the form below so we may refer an expert

Do you have a question for us? We’re here to help!

James Schmidt Expert Spotlight