A cleaner working at Dubai International Airport stole a sim card and posted pictures of the phone's owner on social media.
The Pakistani man, 28, came across the lost handset on an Emirates flight, and handed it in to the lost and found department, but kept the sim.
Details of the incident were heard in court in Thursday as the cleaner was sentenced to six months in jail.
The court heard that on September 15 last year, the victim, an American woman, left the Samsung on the aircraft after she arrived for a stopover in Dubai from Angola, while en route to Lebanon.
Emirates later contacted the passenger after she arrived in Lebanon and returned the phone to her.
“The woman reported that her memory card was missing. Then, she found that her pictures had been posted on a Facebook account," a 23-year-old police officer testified.
How the woman came across images of her was not fully detailed in court, but they appear to have been spotted by a friend of hers.
The accused was quickly tracked down and said he not steal the phone as he feared of being searched by airport security.
“The cleaner confessed to the crime,” said the officer.
He will be deported on his release.