OGDEN, Utah (ABc4 News) – An Ogden man found himself in a unique position after responding to a Facebook message from who he says he thought was a scammer, but that wasn’t the case.
A couple of months ago Ben Taylor received a Facebook message from a man named Joel in LIberia. The message read, ‘”Hello sir, my name is Joel from Liberia, West Afirca. PlsIi beg u in name of God, I need some assistance from u, business or financial assistance dat will help empower me pls.”
Taylor decided to document his interactions with Joel on his Youtube channel, Pleasant Green.
Taylor says, “I thought he was just trying to rip me off, he was wanting me to send him electronic devices and not compensate me for them. So I figured that I was just going to have some fun with him and waste his time, and have him do menial tasks, like take photos.”
Taylor decided whether Joel was a scammer or not, he wanted to give him the opportunity to make money in an honest way. To Taylor’s surprise, Joel did start taking photos and sending them back for compensation. Taylor says the photos were not great at first–Joel was using an old flip phone to take them.
“I thought, if [Joel] had another camera, maybe [he} could do a better job…so I sent him this 30 dollar camera that I bought off Amazon and I mailed it to Liberia, and said ‘Use this camera and work on your photography skills, and let’s see what you can do.’ I figured he was just give up and take the camera and sell it and be done with me,” explains Taylor.
But that wasn’t the case. Joel’s photos got much better, and Taylor knew it was time to compensate him for his work.
“I decided I would put his photographs in a little booklet and try to sell it to people”, says Taylor.
The book sold to people all over the world, and his original IndieGoGo Campaign far exceeded its goal. Taylor and Joel agreed to split the earnings down the middle, but Taylor decided to give his earnings to a charity in Liberia. However, he could not find a charity he fully trusted. So he asked Joel what his community needed most.
“That’s when he told me there were a lot of kids in his community that weren’t going to school because they didn’t have the equipment they needed…the best thing we could do with that money was to give it to the kids, “ says Taylor.
Ben wired some money to Joel, and told him to help the children with it.
Taylor says, “It was really uplifting and encouraging to see that this guy that I thought was just trying to rip me off at first, turn out to be someone who went and did a ton of good in his community.”
Joel is out of debt, his English is improving, and Taylor says both of them are grateful for the partnership. The two still work together, and speak multiple times a week. Taylor says he hopes this book serves a larger purpose, too.
“If anything comes from this, I hope that people just think that you can’t judge people so quickly,” explains Taylor.
You can still buy Joel’s book, “By D Grace of God,” here:
You can visit Ben Taylor’s Youtube channel here: