16 November, 2018
A New Jersey couple has been hit with criminal charges stemming from a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $400,000 for homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt, who was also arrested in connection with the money-raising effort that now appears to be an elaborate scam, authorities said.
Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico started the online fund drive in November 2017, claiming that vagrant Johnny Bobbitt had spent his last $20 to buy McClure a tank of gas when her auto broke down along I-95 outside Philadelphia. In order to keep up the charade, the complaint says they prevented donors from learning information that would "affect their judgement" about the GoFundMe campaign, and failed to "correct their story". "It was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences".
Coffina noted D'Aminco and McClure were in custody since Wednesday night while Bobbitt was awaiting extradition from Philadelphia.
McClure and D'Amico have been charged with theft by deception, as well as conspiracy.
Once their scheme started gaining momentum, they put together all kinds of stories that helped to keep it going, but it all fell apart over the last couple of weeks, as part of an investigation.
More than 14,000 people donated to the GoFundMe campaign McClure and D'Amico set up as a way to give back to Bobbitt.
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Coffina said that by March 2018, the couple spent the vast majority of the donated money on a auto, vacations, a number of handbags and casino visits.
Less than an hour after the couple set up the page to solicit donations, McClure sent a text message to a friend acknowledging the story was "completely made up".
In August, Bobbitt's lawyers sued the couple for fraud, claiming that the funds McClure and D'Amico raised were never used as promised.
The couple denied the allegations and said they had withheld some of the money because they feared Bobbitt, who has battled a drug addiction, would spend it on drugs. Inside Edition has reached out to attorneys for both the couple and Bobbitt.
In light of the charges, donors to the Go Fund Me campaign are expected to receive full refunds, he added.
He was certain that a book deal they were pursuing would "dwarf" the money from the GoFundMe fundraiser and a few months later, when the dispute with Bobbitt became public, D'Amico was not dissuaded, according to the prosecutor.
D'Amico and McClure said they were rationing the money to keep Bobbitt from using it on "something stupid".