An American YouTuber Ben Taylor, 33, of Salt Lake City, Utah, who was contacted by a Liberian on Facebook: ‘Helo Sir, well my name is Joel from Liberia, West Africa. Please I beg you in name of GOD, I need some assistance from your business or financial assistance that will help empower me pls.’
According to an article on Daily Mail, Ben struck up a conversation with the man named Joel and asked him to take some photos of the sunset in Liberia, offering to pay him for the images
The first pictures were blurry, so Ben sent him a $30 camera, and the man went on to take 20 eye-opening images of his impoverished Liberian village
Ben used the images to create a book showcasing Joel’s work, entitled By D Grace of God, which sold around 2,500 copies at $10 each.
Instead of deleting the message, Ben replied, ‘How can I help?’ – triggering an unlikely chain of events which he documented on his YouTube channel, Pleasant Green.
Ben, who previously went viral after mailing ‘horse poop’ to a different scammer in Nigeria, said that at first his aim was to waste as much of Joel’s time as possible.
But when he asked the man if he wanted to collaborate on a photojournalism project, he discovered he was actually a dad in genuine need of a helping hand.
Ben asked Joel – who claimed he wanted to be a journalist – to send him some photos of the sunset in Liberia using his phone and promised to pay him for the images if he did so.
The first pictures were blurry so Ben sent him a $30 camera and was stunned when a set of 20 eye-opening images of his impoverished Liberian village arrived in his inbox.
He went on to create a book showcasing Joel’s work, entitled By D Grace of God, which sold around 2,500 copies at $10 each – raising a staggering $25,000.
Some of the money went to Joel’s wife and children and towards printing costs, but the reformed scammer also splashed some of it on backpacks for 150 Liberian children.
Ben, who works in marketing, said: ‘At first I just thought this was one of those scammers who wanted to take advantage of me.
‘In the past when people have contacted me I would waste their time. I even sent them poop and tried to get revenge.
‘They usually realize I’m not falling for their tricks but Joel said, “OK, you’re offering me an opportunity and I’m going to do my best.”
‘The fact he was willing to put in work and do what I was asking him to do made me think, “This guy is worth spending money on.”
‘I was super surprised with how long the story went on for. I didn’t expect it to last more than a couple of days but it’s lasted more than six months.
‘I thought he was trying to make a quick buck off me but it turned out he was someone who was really in need and all he needed was someone to just take a chance on him.
‘That person ended up being me.’
Ben and his unlikely business partner are now seeking out other ventures and plan to invest the cash in micro-loans or charities.
‘It has turned into this humanitarian opportunity that has developed. People are continuing to support our project and Joel is still doing well,’ he said.
‘It was really special and moving to see how much good one guy could do. Joel was able to buy backpacks for over 150 kids.
‘He is now in the process of building up a business for himself and getting back up on his feet.
‘The thing to take away from this story is that you can’t judge people too quickly.
‘If you see people come to you and ask for help it’s easy to write them off – a scammer or beggar who has brought this situation upon themselves.
‘Taking the time to get to know people can help things to turn out completely.