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"As of now, investigators believe there have been 6 such incidents in the past 5 weeks. "To avoid becoming a victim of these crimes, we urge members of the public to arrange meetings with online vendors in public places, such as local police departments," John Horn, the assistant U. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said following the sentencing hearing of a Craigslist robber.

On the website's personal safety page, Craigslist emphasizes that a tiny fraction of transactions conducted through the site end in crime.

Johnny Jackson told The Post that Hilarie, his brother, took Bustos to the same bowling alley the siblings used to go to as kids.

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"If she hasn't done it before, then she has talked to people who have done it." It is unclear if Bustos has hired an attorney, and her family members could not be reached for comment.

- - - Using the lure of Internet love to get money from unsuspecting people is a scam as old as the Web itself.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.