Photography Transforms a Liberian Email Scammer Into a Saint



African email scams are legendary. Most of us at one point have gotten an email promising riches beyond our wildest dreams from lost money in a bank account with the same name as you, to the incredibly imaginative and fanciful ones like an African Astronaut who's been stuck in space for fourteen years and just wants to come home... yes, that's a real thing.  

With the number of gullible people out there falling for these scams, people have taken matters into their own hands by becoming 'Scambusters". What that usually entails is just wasting as much of the scammers time as possible so they can't scam anyone else. They would then post the scammers info along with the scam itself onto various scambusting websites. 

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(Scam buster Pleasant Green - photo copyright Pleasant Green)

Scambuster Pleasant Green (that's his social media name) got an email in the middle of 2017 from a man named Joel in Liberia that asked Pleasant Green to send him some premium electronics for him to sell in his village and he'd split the profits with him. 

Joel message.pngInstead of just deleting it, Green decided to play along and replied he didn't trust Joel but that he was in the photography business and that if Joel took some pictures and sent them to Green, he would buy any of the ones that he liked. Joel green and to Green's shock actually took pictures and sent some back to Joel. 

They were terrible.

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Green assumed the images Joel took came from a 15-year-old flip phone, or worse, but he was actually impressed that Joel was trying. Joel mentioned that he was looking for God's favor through someone and believed that someone was Pleasant Green.

So, Pleasant Green wasn't sure if Joel was really a scammer or someone who was just trying to better his own life. So, Green came up with a plan, he'd buy Joel a cheap $30 dollar digital camera, and mail it to him.

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(vivitar camera sent to Joel in Liberia)


Joel continued to take and send Green pictures from his village in Liberia, and though they were better than the original pictures he received, they were still terrible, because Joel didn't know anything about photography. They were blurry and dark. 

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So, Green gave the Liberian some pointers on how to take better photographs, like hold the camera steady and make sure you have enough light. 

Instead of quitting like most scammers would... Joel took Green's lessons to heart and started sending back pictures that were better than good. Pictures that truly showed what it was like to live in his little village.

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The pictures were so good that instead of buying them directly from Joel he made a book out of them and called it "By D Grace of God", using the exact words Joel had sent to him.

Green made an IndieGoGo campaign and was blown away by the response. Selling over 1000 copies in 40 different countries. 

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But the story gets even better. Green contacted Joel and told him that as promised he's going to use his half of the money for charity, but he'd like to help the people of Joel's village and asked Joel one question:
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Joel replied if you send me $500 dollars he would be able to buy backpacks, notebooks, pens and other school supplies that the children can't afford because their parents are too poor. 

So, Green did the riskiest thing so far. He sent Joel $500 of his own money through Western Union... committing the biggest no-no in any scam. Once you wire someone cash, it's gone forever. 

But his gut instinct was right. Joel didn't keep the money for himself; instead, he went down to the local market and bought every school supply they had and gave it all to children of his village. 

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(Joel with the kids)

Turns out Joel wasn't a scammer, he was a desperate man who didn't know what to do and reached out to a stranger across the world for help, and that stranger took the time to listen and invest on his terms and something magical happened. 

Please watch the full video to hear the whole story and follow along with the constantly updated journey on Pleasant Green's YouTube page