Chicago — Prosecutors say a Chicago man robbed at least eight people during Facebook Marketplace meet-ups while he was already on probation for another robbery. All of the holdups occurred when the victims met with Tuwayne Bell to complete online sales transactions they arranged through the social media platform, prosecutor Jack Ruggiero said.
Chicago police warned the public twice about a pattern of ten robberies that occurred in the 4400 block of West Washington and the first block of North Kilbourn in January and February.
During Bell’s bail hearing on Sunday, Ruggiero said that the victims all agreed to buy or sell tech products, usually iPads and iPhones, to a specific Facebook account. When they arrived at the meeting location, Ruggiero said, Bell would pull out a gun and demand their phones and money. Bell sometimes forced victims to transfer money to a Zelle account.
Ruggiero said that when Chicago police detectives searched the Facebook account used to set up the meetings, they found it was linked to Bell’s mother’s phone number. He went on to say that when Bell’s mother posted bail for her son in “several” arrests, she included the phone number on the paperwork.
Based on that information, investigators included Bell’s picture in photo line-ups, and “at least” eight victims picked him out as the robber, said Ruggiero.
Bell has been on probation for robbery since September 29. In that case, he was accused of robbing a man of cigarettes and cash while holding his hand in his pocket as if he had a gun on March 15, 2022.
His public defender on Sunday said he has a child on the way and is a caretaker for his mother. Bell is getting his GED, works full-time as a package loader, and volunteers for a major charity, the lawyer said.
Judge Ankur Srivastava held Bell without bail at the state’s request on eight counts of armed robbery and one count of aggravated robbery.