GoFundMe Couple, Homeless Man Allegedly Both in on Scam

GoFundMe Couple, Homeless Man Allegedly Both in on Scam

The feel-good story about a couple who raised $US400,000 for a homeless veteran seems to have fallen apart, as New Jersey prosecutors charged the trio with an elaborate plot to make up a viral story and steal the money they raised from it. According to the story posted on GoFundMe, Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless United States marine veteran, gave his last $US20 to Kate McClure for gas after her vehicle broke down near a Philadelphia overpass he lived under.

Along with her boyfriend D'Amico, 39, McClure called for donations to help her repay her debt to Bobbitt.

The three were charged with "theft by deception" and conspiracy to commit such a theft.

"Ok so wait the gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn't", McClure texted a friend less than an hour after the GoFundMe page went live, Coffina said. Had the homeless Marine veteran not started a highly publicized litigious battle over the money, "there's a good chance they might have gotten away with it", Coffina said.

Bobbitt, who had been homeless several years, was said to have told McClure to lock her car's doors while he went to get a canister of petrol for her vehicle. At first, D'Amico claimed that they'd given him closer to $200,000 (£155,745) and were simply afraid to give him the full amount at once because he has an admitted substance abuse problem. McClure and D'Amico surrendered to authorities and were released. Over $100,000 of that money was spent by the couple in and around casinos, Coffina said, and a auto, jewelry and luxury handbags were seized from their home.

Now, all of the money raised through the crowdfunding website will be refunded to the donors, Coffina said. They potentially face between five and 10 years in prison. "We are fully cooperating and assisting law enforcement officials to recover every dollar withdrawn by Ms. McClure and Mr. D'Amico".

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"While this type of behavior by an individual is extremely rare, it's unacceptable and clearly it has consequences", the company said in a statement.

According to the report, the three made up the story that inspired 14,000 contributors to raise $400,000 (£311, 500) for Bobbitt.

Now, GoFundMe has pledged to refund the money to everyone who donated to the campaign. The campaign quickly raised a total of $402,706. At the end of August, Bobbitt filed a lawsuit against the couple that accused them of fraud and conspiracy, of using the "GoFundMe account as their personal piggy bank to fund a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford". Bobbitt's attorney, Christopher Fallon Jr., did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

Coffina said Bobbitt had posted a similar story about helping a woman with supper money while he was living in North Carolina in 2012 on Facebook and said blame for the plan lay with all three suspects.

The couple said they were being cautious about giving Bobbitt large sums of money until he had a job and was off drugs. D'Amico said at other points that he was holding on to some of the money but would gladly turn it over to Bobbitt once he kicked an opioid addiction and managed to hold down a job.

But with questions looming about how much - if any - of the money was left for Bobbitt, a judge ordered that the couple appear before the court for a deposition.

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