Stealing Or Borrowing?

Usually, the line between stealing and borrowing isn’t that fine, but after reading this story from the BBC, I’ve been forced to re-evaluate.

Andrew Michael was only 17 when he discovered a niche market in the web hosting industry that was not being properly serviced.  The year was  “1997 and he was living at home with his mum in Cheltenham, in the west of England”. 

He noticed that most of the web hosting companies were chasing after big fish, while the technologically deficient smaller businesses were left out to fend for themselves.  Cha-ching!

As the dollar signs bounced around in his head, he started making moves.  With the help of his friend they set up computers in his room and create the necessary software themselves.  Here’s where things get real interesting.

These guys needed a high-speed internet connection and this was 1997.  Yeah.  Nowadays you call Verizon and choose a package.  Back then you had to dig a hole in the ground and it was going to cost you $30,000.  They didn’t have $30,000.  But, his mother did…on her credit card.

Charge It To The Game

Without his mother’s permission, Andrew used her credit card to not only get the high-speed connection but also for advertising.  Hey if you’re going to get grounded for life, or possibly go to jail for grand larceny, might as well swing for the fences. 

In true 90’s criminal mastermind fashion, Andrew had a plan.  One that resulted in him returning the money while still keeping his new business well intact.

The plan was to make enough money to be able to pay off the credit card when the bill arrived.  Sure enough by the end of the month, they made enough money to accomplish their goal.  Crazy huh? 

What’s even crazier to me is the fact that his mom got screwed!  She ended up forgiving them, but honestly, she could probably take her cleptomaniac son’s ass to court for ownership of half of the company.  She was basically their Venture Capitalist without knowing it.

I really don’t like people who steal.  It’s the worst thing you can do.  Even if you think rape and murder are the top two worst things you can do, they actually both involve stealing.  With one your stealing a person’s dignity amongst other things, with the other your stealing a persona’s life. 

Even though this story has a happy ending, it was still wrong of this kid to dishonestly take his mom’s card.  It might seem like I’m piling in on this guy but there’s a good reason for that.  While I can say that I hate thieves I can also say Andrew’s story is kind of inspiring.

Based on the information given, I can see a 17-year-old Andrew Michael seeing what he did less as stealing and more as borrowing.  In his mind, he was so convinced that his idea was such a sure thing that he had no fear of not being able to replace the money. 

Imagine having not only an idea like that but knowing you can profit off it.  This actually happened to me a few times, but it involved gambling.  Funny I should mention that because that is exactly what he did.

I was passing by a gas station one day and got one of my feelings.  I had no cash on me so I told my girlfriend to give me $10.  I told her that I’d pay her back as soon as I came out of the store.  One lotto scratch off ticket later and I’m counting my winnings and handing her double her money back. 

Make no mistake about it what Andrew did was a gamble with his mom’s money.  He could have lost it all, but he didn’t.  I’m not suggesting anyone do the same thing.  At any age, in any country.  Things might not turn out as rosy as they did for him.  But, what I am saying is, if you have a really great idea, know in your heart that you can take it from mind to reality and profit, then, by all means, pull out YOUR OWN credit card and charge it. 

Or go to the bank and get a loan.  Or go ASK your mother or father to help you out.  Don’t rely on luck though.  Rely on logic and make sure you’ve done something like this before.

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