Homeless Man and New Jersey Couple Allegedly Conspired Together on GoFundMe Scam: Report
The headline-making story of a good deed gone awry has taken another twist, as a New Jersey couple and a Philadelphia homeless man are now reportedly accused of working together to concoct a GoFundMe story that landed them $400,000.
A source reportedly told WCAU that Johnny Bobbitt, Kate McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico will face charges including theft by deception, and conspiracy for allegedly making up a false story to secure thousands in GoFundMe donations.
As the original story went, Bobbitt, a Raleigh, North Carolina, native, first met McClure last October, when her car ran out of gas on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. Bobbitt allegedly spent his last $20 to buy gas for McClure. Moved by his kindness, she and D’Amico set up a GoFundMe page to help Bobbitt get back on his feet. More than 14,000 donated a total of $402,706 to the man.
However, WCAU cited a complaint that apparently alleges the three made up the false story, and kept GoFundMe donors from obtaining vital information “that would affect their judgment about solicited contribution to that fundraising effort.”
The couple’s attorney, Ernie Badway, declined to comment on the matter. And a lawyer for Bobbitt, Jacqueline Promislo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.
D’Amico and McClure turned themselves in to Burlington County prosecutors on Wednesday, WCAU reported, citing the unnamed source. It is unclear whether Bobbitt has turned himself in.
What began as a feel-good story eventually turned into a criminal investigation after Bobbitt, a 35-year-old vet, accused McClure, 28, and D’Amico, 39, of spending the more than $400,000 they raised for him on GoFundMe on lavish vacations and a new BMW.
Bobbitt claimed he was homeless again after the couple took control of the money. His attorneys filed a civil suit on his behalf, leading to court hearings and a police search on the couple’s home.
Now, in the latest twist, it all may have been a ploy for the trio to raise money for themselves. The news comes weeks after a Burlington County Superior Court judge granted Badway’s request to stay the civil suit, halting legal proceedings through Dec. 7 due to the prosecutors’ initial criminal investigation.
The couple has long denied Bobbitt’s allegations. And, during a September court appearance for an unrelated traffic warrant, D’Amico said everything would soon become “crystal clear” in his and McClure’s battle with Bobbitt.
Weeks ago, GoFundMe officials said they were working with authorities to give Bobbitt a portion of his money, even setting up an account with $20,000 with Bobbitt’s lawyers, according to Good Morning America. Officials with the fundraising site announced in September that Bobbitt would receive the aforementioned portion of the donations as a result of their GoFundMe Guarantee program, a policy that ensures recipients receive their money, or those who have donated receive refunds in the event of “campaign misuse.”
GoFundMe did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE.