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.At a news conference, he said he suspected she was experienced with the scheme.
Johnny Jackson told The Post that Hilarie, his brother, took Bustos to the same bowling alley the siblings used to go to as kids.Jackson remembered his brother cracking jokes while wearing Florida State University colors, the school whose teams they cheered.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.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.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.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.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.