"When it came to sports, he was always the number one pick," Jackson said. We don't put our kids in them." Nobody was more important to Hilarie than his daughter, Lajaya, he said. "That was his world." Jackson said he didn't know how long his brother and Bustos had been talking on Plenty Of Fish."He did a little amateur boxing, but he was one of the biggest Florida State fans. He estimated Hilarie had been on the site less than two months, because that's when Hilarie broke up with his last girlfriend.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.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.
"Half of the profiles, they don't even put their real name," Jackson said."And the smartest person can be taken in during the early stages of the dating process.Except now it's more sophisticated and easier for someone to lie and cheat and fabricate because they can pretty much change their identity to make it fit a new reality." Scammers, Levin said, "are experts at presentation of self.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.