ABC 7 reports that a couple and homeless veteran have been been arrested for making up a fake story to raise money on GoFundMe. New Jersey prosecutors say the couple raised hundreds of thousands of dollars based on a hoax they concocted that went viral online. Johnny Bobbitt, 35, Kate McClure, 28, and Mark D’Amico, 39, were all arrested and charged in the matter.
In November 2017, McClure said that Bobbitt had given her his last $20 to buy gas after she was stranded in Philadelphia along I-95. McClure and her boyfriend, D’Amico, created a campaign through GoFundMe to raise $10,000 to help Bobbitt.
After the media blasted the story and it became viral online, the campaign ended up collecting $400,000 in donations.
Investigators learned that McClure texted a friend just after creating the campaign, telling her it was a made up story. She apparently hadn’t run out of gas, and Bobbitt hadn’t helped her by giving her his last $20.
She reportedly said in the text, “The gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn’t. I had to make something up to make people feel bad. So shush about the made up stuff.”
Police searched McClure and D’Amico’s home in New Jersey in September after questions were asked about what had happened to the money they raised. After fees, the couple netted $360,000, which was kept in an account controlled by McClure. Bobbitt was given $75,000 of the money.
Bobbitt sued the couple in August, demanding his share of the entire amount raised. However, the money was already gone at that time. Officials say that most of the money was gone by March, as the couple bought expensive bags, took fancy vacations, visited the casinos and even bought a new car.
All three parties have been charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception. If convicted, they face maximum sentences of 5-10 years.
GoFundMe will be refunding donations made to the campaign.