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He'd picked her up and they went bowling in Winter Haven, Fla., at Cypress Lanes, which offers shoe and lane rentals for a quarter on Thursday nights, and specials on pizza and beer.
A few hours later, the pair ended up at his place, where they talked a bit more and met up with his roommate. Bustos sent the single father a text afterward: She'd had a good time, she wrote to Hilarie, and wanted to meet up the following night at his place.
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.
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.
Hilarie was shot in the head and collapsed on the kitchen floor, Auburndale's Deputy Police Chief Andy Ray told The Post.
Still, stories exist across the country of people looking for love but finding violent criminals instead.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.When you're dealing with the Internet, you don't need the resources that you might need in an interpersonal relationship, or face-to-face.
But on the Internet all you need really is to be very skillful at presenting yourself as something that you aren't.
A witness told investigators that Bustos had been involved in at least one similar robbery before, Ray told The Post.