She knew they’d soon spend hours gabbing on the phone, as was their daily habit.No matter how tired she got from helping Sinclair obtain his money, the prospect of hearing her fiancé’s adoring voice always managed to lift her heart.
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.
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.
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.