Three arrested in alleged "Homeless GoFundMe" scam

Elias Hubbard
November 18, 2018

The supposedly heartwarming story of a couple raising money for a homeless veteran who assisted one of them in an emergency has turned out to be a scam, according to authorities. 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 auto broke down near a Philadelphia overpass he lived under.

Johnny Bobbitt, Kate McClure, and her boyfriend Mark D'Amico were all arrested in connection with the alleged plot.

McClure, D'Amico and Bobbitt were charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

A picture of Katelyn McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr.is displayed during a news conference in Mt. Holly, N.J., Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018.

After scouring more than 67,000 texts on the couple's phones, officials discovered a text exchange between McClure and a friend written less than an hour after the GoFundMe page went live that appears to confirm it was all a hoax.

McClure and D'Amico's lawyers declined to comment. Bobbitt remains in custody. They say the couple previously met him near an underpass when visiting a casino in the area.

In a high-profile interview with NBC's Megyn Kelly, McClure and D'Amico insisted that $150,000 of the money they raised remained for Bobbitt. "She was used by Mr. D'Amico and Mr. Bobbitt and she thought throughout that this money was going to a homeless veteran".

A lawyer for Mr D'Amico, 39 and Ms McClure, 28, declined to comment, according to USA media.

Officials believe McClure and D'Amico squandered the money on a BMW, a New Year's trip to Las Vegas, high-end handbags, and a total of US$85,000 was withdrawn at casinos located in Atlantic City, Bensalem, and Philadelphia. But after a judge ordered the couple to hand over the rest of the money, they claimed it was all gone.

She was among the more than 14,000 people who contributed to the campaign, which raised over $400,000 previous year.

"[McClure] did not run out of gas ... and [Bobbitt] did not spend his last $20 to help her", charged Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina on Thursday. But, the company says they are "fully cooperating" with law enforcement and has confirmed that donors will receive a refund.

As of now, there are "zero dollars" left from the GoFundMe campaign. The couple maintained they had given him $200,000 over several months.

But they seem to have shot themselves in their feet as they allegedly failed to give Bobbitt his fair share, which led to the disgruntled rough sleeper filing a suit against them, ultimately leading to the investigation into their actions.

In August, Bobbitt's lawyers sued the couple for fraud, claiming that the funds McClure and D'Amico raised were never used as promised.

After exceeding their original fundraising goal of $10,000, they bought clothing and a new camper van for Mr Bobbitt, but later reportedly asked him to remove it from outside their property.

Bobbitt later said he received about US$75,000 of the money.

Prosecutors began investigating after Bobbitt claimed he wasn't getting the money that had been raised on his behalf.

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.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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