Ben Taylor and Joel’s story shows what happens when you give someone who seems bad the chance to do something good. Ben received a message from a man 6,500 miles away in Monrovia, Liberia. He instantly recognized the message as a scam.
“The initial message said he wanted financial help, for me to send him laptops, TVs, cell phones and other electric devices so that he could sell them and then we would ‘split the profits,'” Ben told Caters News. “I knew if I sent them I would never see the money promised. I decided I wouldn’t send him what he wanted, but offer him a different way to make money.”
Ben wanted to see if he could waste Joel’s time in order to prevent him from scamming others. He told Joel that he would pay him for photographs of his country.
Joel sent Ben some photos, but they were terrible quality. So Ben decided to send Joel a $30 camera. Joel sent back more photos, but they still weren’t great. Ben told Joel to practice, and he eventually got pretty good. He sent back photos of his community, of the children there, and what it was like to live in Liberia.
“I couldn’t afford to keep paying out of my own pocket, so I launched a photo book campaign. I thought with the people who knew about the story I could draw some interest. Within two weeks, we hit our target,” Ben said.
They raised $13,000. Ben wanted to donate the money to help children in Joel’s community. The Liberian said he would use the money to buy school supplies and backpacks for kids. Ben was scared that if he sent the money, Joel would steal it. Ben took a leap of faith and sent it anyway.
“I was a bit cautious about Joel offering to buy the goods from local vendors, but he had taken the pictures for me, so I was equally surprised when he documented buying all the equipment,” Ben said. “He bought out several local vendors and was able to put backpacks on 150 school kids in the area.”
The photo book is named By D Grace of God because Joel remarked that he believed God sent Ben to him.
“I thought he was trying to rip me off and scam me out of electronic devices, but he turned out to be someone who brought a lot of hope and good to his community,” Ben said.
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