New details continue to emerge in the case of a homeless man and a couple accused of scamming thousands of people out of $400,000 via a GoFundMe scam.
NBC Philadelphia reports that 28-year-old Kate McClure allegedly sent a text message to a friend within hours of creating a reported fraudulent GoFundMe scam last year.
McClure, along her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, 39, and Johnny Bobbitt, 35, are accused of conspiring together in November 2017 with a fake story about Bobbit, a homeless man, by claiming he gave his last $20 to help McClure when her car ran out of gas on a Pennsylvania interstate.
Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said McClure’s car didn’t run out of gas on the interstate and Bobbitt never gave her his last $20. Instead, the prosecutor stated McClure and D’Amico met Bobbitt at an off-ramp close to a Philadelphia casino. On November 10, 2017, McClure created the GoFundMe campaign. Within hours, according to Coffina, McClure sent her friend a text message.
“Ok, so wait. The gas part is completely made up. The guy isn’t,” McClure reportedly texted once she posted the campaign online. “So shush about the made up stuff.”
Coffina said that all three suspects were in on the reported scam. McClure’s lawyer, James Gerrow, argued that his client was manipulated by D’Amico and Bobbitt.
“She was used by Mr. D’Amico and Mr Bobbitt and she thought throughout that this money was going to a homeless veteran. She was unaware that they had concocted this scheme. It wasn’t until September when meeting with prosecutors that she came to realize that she had been used by both of them.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Bobbit is also accused of writing a similar story in 2012. According to ta 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, the trio allegedly started a GoFundMe campaign with a story “remarkably similar” to Bobbitt’s previous story, according to Coffina. 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.
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: D’Amico, McClure, & Bobbitt/Police Handout]