GoFundMe marketing campaign for homeless man ‘predicated on a lie’


The couple, Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, and the person, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., face expenses of second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina stated Thursday.

The couple had stated they met Bobbitt when he gave his final $20 to McClure, who was stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia, so she may put fuel in her automotive, then began the GoFundMe marketing campaign as a strategy to thank him.

“The paying-it-forward story that drove this fundraiser may appear too good to be true,” Coffina stated at a press convention.

“Sadly, it was. The whole marketing campaign was predicated on a lie.”

After charges, the proceeds of the marketing campaign netted about $367,000, all deposited into McClure’s accounts, Coffina stated. Bobbitt obtained $75,000, and inside months McClure and D’Amico had “squandered” their share to purchase a automotive, high-end purses and journeys, Coffina stated. Additionally they used it at casinos, he stated.

Coffina confused that whereas Bobbitt, a veteran, deserves thanks for his service to the nation and sympathy for his state of affairs, he was absolutely complicit within the crime, making media appearances to assist “promote the fraudulent marketing campaign.”

In keeping with Coffina, McClure and D’Amico first met Bobbitt at an off-ramp close to a on line casino they frequented, at the least a month earlier than the GoFundMe marketing campaign went dwell.

They went again to the spot a month later, Coffina stated. D’Amico took an image of McClure and Bobbitt that turned the face of the GoFundMe marketing campaign that they began hours later, Coffina stated.

Kate McClure said she helped raise thousands of dollars for Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a homeless man, to repay him for helping her.

Investigators reviewed greater than 67,000 textual content messages within the case, together with one McClure despatched to a good friend that learn, “Okay so wait the fuel half is totally made up, however the man is not. I needed to make one thing as much as make individuals really feel unhealthy.”

In different texts, the couple mentioned their incapability to pay payments and their mounting money owed.

Coffina additionally identified that Bobbitt posted a “remarkably comparable” story on his Fb web page in 2012.

On the time, he wrote that he had come throughout a lady who had run out of fuel and had a flat tire at a Walmart in North Carolina. He stated he had given her the final of his cash.

“I do not assume that is a coincidence,” Coffina stated.

GoFundMe has dedicated to offering a full refund to the marketing campaign’s 14,000 donors, Coffina stated.

D’Amico and McClure surrendered Wednesday night time and have been launched pending a courtroom date, Coffina stated. Bobbitt was additionally taken into custody in Philadelphia and is awaiting extradition. Second-degree crimes in New Jersey carry the potential of 5 to 10 years in jail, Coffina stated.

Ernest Badway, an lawyer for D’Amico and McClure, declined to remark.

The fees come months after Bobbitt sued McClure and D’Amico, accusing them of withholding the cash raised on his behalf.

Requested by a reporter if the trio would have gotten away with the deception had they not begun to combat over the cash, Coffina replied, “There is a good probability they may have.”

From left: Kate McClure, Mark D'Amico, and Johnny Bobbitt Jr.

‘Misuse’ is uncommon on GoFundMe, spokesman says

In a press release, a spokesman for the crowdfunding website confirmed donors will obtain a refund. GoFundMe is “absolutely cooperating” with legislation enforcement officers within the investigation.

“Whereas one of these habits by a person is extraordinarily uncommon, it is unacceptable and clearly it has penalties,” stated Bobby Whithorne, including that misuse is uncommon on GoFundMe.

“Campaigns with misuse make up lower than one-tenth of 1% of all campaigns,” he stated. “Now we have a zero tolerance coverage for fraudulent habits.”

In keeping with its web site, the corporate has a Trust and Safety team that evaluations GoFundMe campaigns across the clock and works to stop fraud. It additionally guarantees a refund for donors in case “one thing is not proper” with a marketing campaign, the location says.

A viral story falls aside

Final fall, social media was abuzz with the story of McClure and D’Amico’s seeming act of kindness.

McClure and D’Amico started a GoFundMe marketing campaign so they may “do one thing particular” for Bobbitt, they stated. The marketing campaign shortly raised a complete of $402,706.

Video confirmed the couple revealing the sum to an overjoyed Bobbitt, promising him they’d get him settled in a brand new house. The cash, Bobbitt stated, would change his life.

However questions concerning the cash quickly adopted.

In August, Bobbitt’s legal professionals sued the couple for fraud, claiming that the funds McClure and D’Amico raised have been by no means used as promised.

As an alternative of giving Bobbitt cash for a home, the couple purchased him a camper with out his consent and saved him in it on their property with “no entry to cash or meals,” his legal professionals alleged. They stated Bobbitt solely noticed $75,000 of the practically $400,000 he was owed.

The cash was put into the couple’s private accounts, his legal professionals stated.

The couple stated they have been being cautious about giving Bobbitt giant sums of cash till he had a job and was off medicine.

However with questions looming about how a lot — if any — of the cash was left for Bobbitt, a judge ordered that the couple appear earlier than the courtroom for a deposition.
The following day, Florence Township police in New Jersey executed a search warrant within the couple’s house. Police confirmed the warrant was associated to Johnny Bobbitt Jr., however the couple was not charged with something on the time.
Bobbitt’s legal professionals then took the matter to GoFundMe, who agreed to foot the invoice and guarantee Bobbitt would obtain the whole he was promised. In September, the corporate gave Bobbitt $20,000 as a part of the assure, with the remainder of the $400,000 to be handed over pending an investigation.

CNN’s Olivia Kiely contributed to this report.

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