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.
There was no reason for Adam Hilarie to believe anything but the obvious: He had just been on a promising first date with a pretty girl.
Hilarie had met Hailey Rose Bustos on Plenty Of Fish, which bills itself as the largest dating site in the world.
In rare instances, victims - like Hilarie - can lose their lives.
Still, stories exist across the country of people looking for love but finding violent criminals instead.
Hilarie was shot in the head and collapsed on the kitchen floor, Auburndale's Deputy Police Chief Andy Ray told The Post.
As Hilarie bled out, Ray said, the suspects went downstairs, pulled their car to the front of the apartment and began stealing the dead man's Xbox, i Phone and TVs -- valuables Bustos had spotted the night before.
"Her comfort with the way this went, didn't seem like it was her first time," he said.
"I see girls on there that their occupation is getting money.
I stay way away from them." Ray, the deputy chief, said it's unclear if Bustos used her real name.
And it's so much easier for someone to do that online." It's unclear how many people across the United States have been caught up in so-called romance schemes, although the FBI and the FTC have both issued warnings against them.
"Millions of Americans visit online dating websites every year hoping to find a companion or even a soulmate," the FBI said just before Valentine's Day, adding that "the FBI wants to warn you that criminals use these sites, too, looking to turn the lonely and vulnerable into fast money through a variety of scams." Most victims walk away with lightened pockets and broken hearts.