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Despite her hand-to-mouth circumstances, Elrod’s new account soon began to receive a series of sizable wire transfers, many of which originated abroad.Over the course of one December week, for example, almost ,000 arrived from Norway; on January 2, someone in France sent ,977.She scraped together just enough to rent a 676-square-foot garage apartment that she shared with a roommate, a gangly buffet cook a dozen years her junior.

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Elrod and Mc Gregor were soon chatting online for more than 12 hours a day.

Mc Gregor often talked about the agony of losing his wife, Susan, who he said had died in a car accident in Edinburgh in 2003.

“He wasn’t like the little boys I was used to dealing with—he was the opposite of that, so sincere, so caring,” Elrod says.

“It wasn’t always about him, it was about me, about everyday stuff in my life.” Within weeks of their initial Facebook encounter, Elrod was telling Mc Gregor her most intimate secrets; he, in turn, was emailing her lists with titles like “100 Things We’ll Do Together Before We Die.” By the end of April 2011—only a month into their romance—they were discussing marriage.

There she’d head straight for the store’s Money Center counter, where she used Money Gram to transmit usually somewhere between $1,500 and $1,800 to a man she knew as Sinclair.

Elrod would spend the next few hours visiting other Bluefield establishments that offer Money Gram or Western Union services: the Advance America payday loan store, the Food City supermarket, the austere cash-for-titles joint located literally under Route 460.was in rough financial shape as the 2012 holiday season drew near.She’d been out of work for a year, ever since quitting her longtime clerical job at the county public health department in Charlotte, North Carolina.He said he had stumbled across her profile while searching for a college friend who shared her last name; he also noted that his own surname was actually Mc Gregor, not Gregor.After a bit more flirtatious back-and-forth on Facebook, Elrod invited him to continue their conversation on Yahoo Messenger.Anxious about her future as an older single woman, Elrod lapped up the kind words about her looks—too few men seemed to appreciate her soft chin, wavy hair, and prominent brown eyes.

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