Three people accused of conspiring together and swindling thousands of people out of money via a GoFundMe scam have been arrested, but a New Jersey prosecutor says this is not the first time one of the suspects, homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt, has claimed he helped someone with his last bit of cash.
“In 2012, Johnny Bobbitt posted a remarkably similar story on his Facebook page out of North Carolina,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said, according to People. “I don’t think that’s a coincidence.”
According to the Facebook post, Bobbitt allegedly wrote he used the last of his cash to help a woman who had a tire blowout in the middle of traffic.
“So this girl runs out of gas and has a flat tire at the same time in front of Wal-Mart and is blocking traffic. Everybody blows the horn and cusses her but of course no-one helps her, So I run to the gas station and then change her tire. I spent the only cash I had for supper but at least she can get her little children home safe.”
Fast forward to 2017, 28-year-old Kate McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 39, started a GoFundMe campaign and claimed Bobbitt spent his last $20 on a gas can and gas when McClure’s car reportedly broke own off of a highway in Pennsylvania. The alleged scam touched the hearts of over 14,000 people, who donated around $400,000 to Bobbitt, under the false pretenses that the homeless man did indeed help McClure, Coffina explained during a Thursday press release.
According to authorities, McClure didn’t even meet Bobbitt off of a Pennsylvania highway while stranded. Coffina said the couple actually met Bobbitt at an off-ramp in Philadelphia close to a casino and all three came up with a plan to make money. The prosecutor said the plan would have likely worked had the trio not gotten into a dispute over the money.
Earlier this year, Bobbitt claimed that the couple failed to hand over all of the money meant for him and instead, spent it on a lavish lifestyle that included vacations, shopping excursions, a new BMW, and gambling.
In turn, the couple claimed that they gave Bobbitt some of the money but decided to hold the rest for him after he quickly spent the funds given to him on drugs. Both sides hired attorneys and during the process, investigators reportedly unraveled their scheme.
Further, according to Coffina, McClure and D’Amico had plans to profit further with a possible book deal. McClure reportedly sent a text message to a friend and described which parts of the book would be based off of the fictitious ordeal.
All three suspects were taken into police custody. They’re facing charges of conspiracy to commit theft by deception and second-degree theft by deception.
Meanwhile, GoFundMe plans to return the funds to every person who donated to the reported scam.
[Feature Photo: DAmico, McClure, & Bobbitt/Police Handout]