Man gets 20 years for robbing people during Facebook Marketplace meet-ups

CHICAGO — The Chicago man accused of robbing ten people he lured in by posing as a buyer or seller on Facebook Marketplace has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Tuwayne Bell, who was on probation for a separate robbery at the time of the alleged crimes, pleaded guilty to a single count of armed robbery before Judge Alfredo Maldonado this week, according to court records. Prosecutors dropped the other nine robbery cases, involving dozens of felony charges, as part of the plea deal.

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 last year.

During Bell’s initial bail hearing last February, prosecutors said that all of the victims had agreed to buy or sell tech products, usually iPads and iPhones, to a specific Facebook account. When they arrived at the meeting location, Bell allegedly pulled out a gun and demanded their phones and money. Bell sometimes forced victims to transfer money to a Zelle account, prosecutors claimed.

Tuwayne Bell (Chicago Police Department, Facebook)

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. Her phone number was included on jail paperwork she filed while posting bail for her son after “several” arrests, a prosecutor said during the bail hearing.

Based on that information, investigators included Bell’s picture in photo line-ups, and the victims picked him out as the robber.

Bell, 21, had been on probation for another robbery since September 2022. In that case, prosecutors accused him of robbing a man of cigarettes and cash while concealing his hand in his pocket as if it were a gun. Judge Maldonado terminated his probation unsatisfactorily this week.

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