Glancing through the paper in his hand, he proceeded to ask if I knew 6 other names. At this point, my heart had gotten to my mouth.
It wasn't that I had completely forgotten the names in question; the names were just no longer in my conscious memory.
The date was October 20, 2000. The auction listing I placed on eBay had come to an end. I listed for sale 12 PALM V handhelds at $250 apiece. The retails price for the gadget was $300 so potential buyers knew they were getting a great deal. PALM V was like the release of a new model of iPhone in those days and most gadget-crazed individuals were itching to get one in their hands.
My main reason for selling at a discounted rate was that I needed funds to pay for my school fees. I wanted to desperately relieve my dad of the fees he had paid for me for over 3 years. I would eventually sell the dozen gadgets within 2 days. Within moments, the buyers, including one Christopher Smith, transferred a total of almost $3000 to my Bank of Edwardsville account. I was happy. I was overjoyed.
The truth was that I did not have in my possession any PALM V gadget to mail to any of the 12 buyers. Still, I was confident they'll get the gadget they paid for.
A few days earlier (October 16, 2000), I had met one Michael Jackson on Yahoo Auctions. He claimed to be a distributor of the PALM V gadget, with warehouses in Japan and Canada. He was auctioning them for $150 apiece and I realized I could make some money buying from him at that price and selling to others at a higher price. I realized I could easily make $100 apiece on this breakthrough gadget.
Thinking of those transactions now I've become an ardent believer of that old saying: if it sounds too good to be true, it's probably too good to be true. I would later discover that I was dealing with someone whose name will forever be engraved in my membrane the same way MICHAEL JACKSON (the pop star) was a fan of millions. My life will not be the same.
I ordered a dozen of the gadgets from Michael Jackson and decided to auction them on another website that my company was listed on: eBay. I would later transfer electronically $1800 (from the $3000 I got from the eBay buyers) to my new distributor. I would forward him the addresses of the 12 buyers so he would be responsible for mailing out the gadgets to their respective owners.
I would never forget that moment I clicked the button on my mouse to finalize the transfer. He was happy, I was happy. And I was about to become seriously sad.
5 seconds after I transferred the funds to MICHAEL JACKSON, I got a mail from a Yahoo Auctions seller: "I noticed you were bidding for the PALM V being sold by user michaelj.....I hope you have not paid for them because the guy is a FRAUD."
If I had gotten the mail from that anonymous Samaritan 7 seconds earlier, there's a good chance that things wouldn't have turned out the way it is for me now. If I had gotten that mail earlier, I might not have turned out to be a PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER today.
To be continued ....
Photographer |Writer |Poet |Host, NiPHEC
NB: This is a non-fictional account of 'Seun Akisanmi's journey from PRISON to PHOTOGRAPHY.