A Reminder Not to Take Pictures of Your Fingers

A drug dealer in the UK shared a picture of a block of cheese in one of his hands. Police analyzed the partial fingerprints in the image and identified the dealer.

A picture of Carl Stewart

Carl Stewart

One might think that people know better than to take pictures of their fingers when trying to remain anonymous. A case from 2021 would prove you wrong.

When law enforcement agencies hacked Encrochat, they obtained messages sent by a drug dealer with the username “Toffeeforce.” One of the user’s messages included a picture of his hand holding a block of cheese.

According to the Merseyside Police, investigators pulled palm and fingerprints from the picture. The prints matched those of Liverpool resident Carl Stewart.

Det Insp Lee Wilkinson of Merseyside Police said, “Stewart was involved in supplying large amounts of class A and B drugs, but was caught out by his love of Stilton cheese, after sharing a picture of a block of it in his hand through encrochat. His palm and fingerprints were analyzed from this picture, and it was established they belonged to Stewart.”

A picture of A picture of the cheese picture containing Stewart's fingerprints

A picture of the cheese picture containing Stewart's fingerprints

If investigators “established” the prints belonged to Stewart through analysis of the picture, which seems to be what the LEO is saying, law enforcement had Stewart’s fingerprints on file for a different reason (such as a previous arrest).

The investigation into the marijuana vendor “Canna_Bars” provides an example of a similar scenario. Canna_Bars had uploaded pictures of their products to Imgur.com. The vendor held marijuana buds in their bare hand for the close-up images. The Imgur gallery contained shots from slightly different perspectives, giving investigators several high-definition pictures of the vendor’s fingerprints.

A picture of Pictures uploaded by Porras aka Canna_bars

Pictures uploaded by Porras aka Canna_bars

From a Darknetlive article about the case:

“The investigator working the case sent high-quality copies of the pictures to the Homeland Security Investigations Document Laboratory (FDL). On March 20, 2018, the analysts at FDL sent the investigator a report that included their findings: the fingerprints in the pictures matched the fingerprints on file for [Jose] Porras.”

Police already had fingerprint cards on file for Porras due to a previous arrest for a possession with intent charge.

One big difference is the quality of the pictures available in the Canna_bars case compared to the quality of the one picture of cheese available to the public in Stewart’ case. I suspect that the only copies of the picture of Stewart’s fingers have been compressed by the websites hosting the pictures, rendering it nearly impossible to see any ridgelines. The full resolution copy of Stewart’s picture is available at this link.

A picture of Left: Picture of Stewart's fingers, Right: picture of Porras' fingers

Left: Picture of Stewart's fingers, Right: picture of Porras' fingers

This case is also less of an OPSEC failure than Porras’ mistakes; police had already hacked Stewart’s phone and would have likely identified him at some point, regardless of the prints.

Stewart pleaded guilty to conspiracy to supply cocaine, heroin, MDMA, and ketamine and one count of transferring criminal property. In May 2021, Stewart was sentenced to 13 years and six months in prison at Liverpool Crown Court.

It's Called We Engage In A Mild Amount of Tomfoolery
db2b33a0 Tue, May 10, 2022

ayo what happen 2 d cheese doe?

c821d810 Wed, May 11, 2022

Fingerprinting should not be grounds for conviction. I know a person with NO fingerprints…

24879110 Tue, May 10, 2022

Here is a picture of my hands, before hand cuff’s and after. Why would anyone include their hands?

4dc18110 Wed, May 11, 2022

Because only you, and your cackling gaggle of omniscient game hen brethren are privy to such quantum obfuscation application. Something tells me you are being honest about using no hands, however.

1f1d8110 Tue, May 10, 2022

Sweaty Palm strain indica or sativa dominate?

9ed05250 Tue, May 10, 2022

Bruh, one more reason to love gloves. Prove me wrong.

c0560ac0 Tue, May 10, 2022

Ya, they can snap a screen shot and run it through the system, that is why it is key to use a low resolution camera… have you ever seen a homeless person with a professional sign?

  • Some one told me DeSnake’s real name is Jose Cuervo…

54cf19d0 Tue, May 10, 2022


57400810 Wed, May 11, 2022

i wanna deep dive darkweb share links on me

95c1c560 Wed, May 11, 2022

you aint wrong brudaaa

6a215ac0 Thu, May 12, 2022

With a high pass filter set to 7 pixels and hue blending you can see that there’s absolutely sufficient detail to make a match with prints. This was only about 2mins work from me, so I imagine that fed investigators with better tools and training had a cakewalk.


619c3920 Fri, May 20, 2022

I checking the img, you correct and smart

051a1130 Thu, May 26, 2022

Man got cheesed

e7a7bab0 Wed, Jun 8, 2022


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