By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
You may remember the case from last year of the homeless man who gave a woman who had run out of gas his last $20 to get home. The woman and her boyfriend then set up a GoFundMe site for the homeless good Samaritan.
As it turns out, the story was all a lie, according to prosecutors in New Jersey.
During a press conference Thursday afternoon, prosecutors said that the couple, Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure, and Johnny Bobbitt knew each other about a month before the couple took a photo with Bobbitt and McClure and started the GoFundMe Campaign.
The trio knew each other because the couple made trips to an area casino, KYW reported.
“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said during the Thursday afternoon press conference. “Less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live, McClure, in a text exchange with a friend, stated that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was ‘completely made up.’ She did not run out of gas on an I-95 off-ramp, and he did not spend his last $20 to help her. Rather, D’Amico, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to fabricate and promote a feel-good story that would compel donors to contribute to their cause,”KYW reported.
Coffina said during the press conference Bobbitt, McClure and D’Amico conspired to bilk people out of $10,000.
The site’s campaign raised more than $400,000 from complete strangers who wanted to help the man, KYW reported.
The scam came to light, prosecutors said, because Bobbitt only received $75,000 of the more than $367,000 the trio got from GoFundMe after the website took its fees. Bobbitt filed a lawsuit against the couple to get more of the donated cash, the prosecutor.
Wednesday, though, McClure and D’Amico turned themselves in to prosecutors in Burlington County, New Jersey, a source told WCAU.
They were released, The Associated Press reported.
Bobbitt was taken into custody in Philadelphia Wednesday night by U.S. marshals. He is being held on probation detainers and a $50,000 bond, the AP reported.
All three face charges of second-degree theft by deception and second-degree conspiracy to commit theft by deception, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
The charges carry a potential sentence of between five and 10 years, the Inquirer reported.
As for the money that was donated, GoFundMe said it will return all of the money to the 14,000 donors, WCAU reported.
“While this type of behavior by an individual is extremely rare, it’s unacceptable and clearly it has consequences. Committing fraud, whether it takes place on or offline, is against the law. We are fully cooperating and assisting law enforcement officials to recover every dollar withdrawn by Ms. McClure and Mr. D’Amico,” GoFundMe said in a statement to KYW.