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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.The 45-year-old divorcée and junior-college dropout now lived in Bluefield, West Virginia, a fading town near the Appalachian coalfields where she’d been raised.
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.
The missive caught her eye because of the sender’s handsome profile photo, which showed a middle-aged man with a ruddy face, strong black eyebrows, and a welcoming gaze.
His name was Duke Gregor.“How beautiful is your picture Audrey,” the message read.
“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.