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In November, the Boston Police Department warned daters to be wary of people they met online after robbers targeted victims who thought they were meeting a romantic interest at a specific address. "Members of the public are urged to take precautions when using social media or dating websites because it's possible you could come across a 'Catfisher.'" Criminals searching for real-world victims online haven't just focused on dating sites.
"When the person arrives outside that location, they are approached by a male suspect armed with a handgun and robbed of their property," Boston police said. Robberies and other violent Craigslist-related crimes across the United States - including multiple slayings - have sparked wariness among some Internet bargain hunters, too, giving police department parking lots a second life as a place to buy stuff from strangers.
A witness told investigators that Bustos had been involved in at least one similar robbery before, Ray told The Post.
For her role in the deadly robbery of Adam Hilarie, Bustos was paid in cash, police said.
In June, robbery victims in Florida told police they had shown up at hotels in Oldmar and Clearwater expecting to meet a woman with the screen name "Curvy Cameron 93." She never showed; instead, two men with guns held the victims up, according to NBC affiliate WFLA.
Detectives told WFLA they feared victims would be afraid to come forward because they would be embarrassed telling people how they got robbed.
The next night, her real intentions became clear, police told The Washington Post.
Bustos, 18, brought three men with her to Hilarie's place, including two career criminals on probation for violent felonies. When Hilarie, 27, responded to the knock on the door, the men overpowered him and dashed inside, police said. "Hilarie was begging for his life, he was not putting up any kind of fight, and was telling them that he had a 5-year-old daughter," according to arrest reports obtained by the Orlando Sentinel.
Hilarie had met Hailey Rose Bustos on Plenty Of Fish, which bills itself as the largest dating site in the world.Experts say people are getting better at spotting many of the Internet's longtime scams: They're suspicious of unsolicited emails from the Nigerian royal family, and they ignore the romantic entreaties of beautiful lovestruck women who sound vaguely like badly programmed algorithms. And on dating sites, would-be scammers have a trump card: People are irrational when they're looking for love."Romance is by definition quite irrational," Jack Levin, co-director of Northeastern University's Brudnick Center on Violence and Conflict, told The Post.At a news conference, he said he suspected she was experienced with the scheme."Her comfort with the way this went, didn't seem like it was her first time," he said.