A woman in Australia has succeeded in getting her stolen iPhone back after a man accidentally posted a selfie of himself to her Facebook profile.

Melbourne native Nicola Shelton was on holiday with friends at Byron Bay, New South Wales, on Valentine's Day when her bag, containing her iPhone, wallet and cards, was stolen from her.

Shelton never expected to see her belongings again but on 25 February, a selfie of an unknown bearded man by the bay, with another man in the background, was posted to her Facebook profile.

She was notified about the photograph by her bemused boyfriend, who asked her why she was posting photos of other men to her Facebook profile, according to 9 News.

At first, Shelton thought the man in photo was the thief and so she shared the photograph with her network of friends, in the hopes of getting it back.

"So this is the low life that stole my bag/iPhone and has decided to take a photo with my phone and post it on my Facebook!! Scum! Bag stolen in Byron bay on February 14, please share to everyone!!!" the post read.

Her ruse worked so well that the post was shared on Facebook over 19,000 times and strangers began messaging Shelton wishing her good luck in getting her phone back.

And the person in possession of the phone saw the post within two days and contacted her to explain.

He claimed he bought the iPhone from someone and had not known it was stolen. He handed it in to Byron Bay police and Shelton was reunited with her phone.

"I was absolutely dumbfounded. At first when I re-shared the photo I didn't think anything would come from it," she said. "I'm just amazed by the help from people I don't even know."

There is another well-known case about a stolen iPhone on the internet - the Tumblr account "Life of a Stranger Who Stole My Phone".

A user named Laura Falafel, from Germany, has been tracking a man named Hafid from Dubai, who stole her phone in July 2013, and her Tumblr blog has received millions of visits.

The thief does not seem to understand that every photo he takes is backed up to Falafel's Dropbox account and she has been faithfully tracking and posting up his photos to her Tumblr ever since, together with amusing captions.