She's Accused of Torching Cop Cars. An Etsy Review Did Her In

FBI finds, arrests Philly woman via creative internet sleuthing
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 19, 2020 11:54 AM CDT
FBI's Clues to Alleged Arsonist: Tattoo and an Etsy Review
Smoke rises from a fire on a police cruiser during a George Floyd protest on May 30, 2020, in Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

"Every Internet user leaves a digital trail." That's how, per Ars Technica, law enforcement tracked down a woman accused of torching two police cars after a peaceful George Floyd protest in Philly last month. ABC News reports that, per a criminal complaint, Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal, 33, was arrested and charged with arson after the FBI followed what the Verge calls a path of "digital breadcrumbs." In photos and video pored over from an aerial news feed, Instagram, and an amateur photographer, authorities saw one masked woman wearing fire-retardant gloves, with a peace sign tattoo on her right arm and a T-shirt that read "Keep the immigrants, deport the racists." The FBI determined that shirt was only sold on Etsy, and they soon found a five-star review for it from a username in Philly. That username led them to another one: "lore-elisabeth," which then led them to Blumenthal's LinkedIn.

That site listed Blumenthal's occupation as massage therapist, and on her employer's site was a video showing a woman at work, sporting the same peace-sign tattoo. The addresses from the employer and the Etsy buyer also matched. The photos used to ID Blumenthal are seen in the FBI agent affidavit filed Monday. "Torching a police car has nothing to do with peaceful protest or any legitimate message," US Attorney William McSwain says in a release. Blumenthal's attorney, meanwhile, tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that the authorities' methods for tracking his client down is a chilling example of law enforcement diving too deep into citizens' privacy. Blumenthal's detention hearing is set for Friday. If convicted of arson charges, she could see up to 80 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. (More Philadelphia stories.)

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