“Hello sir my name is Joel I want 4 us to get into some business, if u can get some used Laptop, Computers, Printers, P.A. Sets and other Electronic Devices so dey can b sold faster.” Ben Taylor heard about these internet scams before and felt he needed to teach the scammer a lesson. So, when he messaged back, little did he know he’d set off a chain of events that would empower an entire village.
“Joel I’d like to talk with you about a different business opportunity…if you’re interested.” Ben lied that he worked in the photography business and collected pictures from around the world. He asked Joel to take some photographs from his part of the world. Joel told him he needed a new camera to take pictures. Would you send someone you’ve never met a camera? Neither would Ben. “Joel, any camera will do, even the camera on your phone.”
“BING!” Joel’s first pictures came through and they were terrible! Maybe Joel really did need a better camera. So, Ben invested in a camera and some basic photography textbooks and shipped them to Joel. As Ben sent the package off to Liberia, he thought it would be the end of their communication, “This guy’s going to sell that camera and make some money and I’ll be out money.”
“BING!” a message from Joel came in a few weeks later. Bing, Bing. More messages with better and better images. Joel took that cheap camera, read the books and began taking really good photographs!
As Joel became a better photographer, Ben made good on his offer and compiled the images of village life in Liberia. Pretty soon Ben had enough good images to publish Joel’s book of photographs. When Ben took to social media and shared the story of their unlikely friendship, they inspired thousands of people, and made $1,000.
Ben and Joel planned to split the money from the book sales. But when Ben learned that $500 was the average earning per year in Liberia, he couldn’t, in good conscience, take his cut. “Give it to a charity or someone in need”, Ben was uncertain whether Joel would really give it to charity or pocket it for himself.
“Bing!” a message from Joel with picture after picture of school children holding new book bags and notebooks. Joel had supplied five local schools with much needed supplies. Joel told Ben the opportunity to be charitable was one of the best things to come out of their friendship.
Ben thought he was going to teach this internet scammer a lesson. But instead he learned the lesson. When you give someone a chance, sometimes they might let you down, or they might just surprise you.