But more often than not, she ended the day no richer than she’d started.As she waited for the Bluefield Area Transit bus to whisk her back to West Virginia, Elrod would think about her fiancé, a Scottish oil worker she’d met online.Elrod’s love affair began with the sort of dodgy Facebook message that most people delete on sight.She discovered that message in March 2011, 20 months before opening her First Community account, while cleaning out her junk-strewn “Other” mailbox during a respite at a Charlotte mall.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’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.
As soon as Elrod would exit First Community with a bundle of and 0 bills in her purse, she’d hang a right and walk across the parking lot to Ridgeview Plaza, a vast and featureless shopping mall surrounded by scraggly woods.
She would pass by the drive-through tobacco outlet, the Dollar Tree, and Bellacino’s Pizza & Grinders en route to the mall’s centerpiece, a typically gargantuan Walmart.
“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.