A man pleaded guilty to federal charges on Monday in New Jersey for his role in his then-girlfriend and a homeless man’s feel-good holiday story that garnered $400,000 on GoFundMe before it was exposed as a scam.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced that Mark D’Amico, 42, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud for the 2017 plot.
D’Amico and his girlfriend at the time, Katelyn McClure, 28, created a GoFundMe under the guise of “paying it forward” to Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 36, a homeless man who she claimed used his last $20 for gas after she was stranded on a Philadelphia highway in November 2017.
The fundraiser page stated that the proceeds would be used to get Bobbitt a place to live and cover his living expenses.
However, the story fell apart after Bobbitt reportedly accused McClure and D’Amico of spending the donated funds on cars, trips, and other lavish items. Since then, GoFundMe said the 14,000 donors who contributed to the fraudulent campaign were refunded.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, D’Amico and McClure purchased Bobbitt a camper and for a period of time, he lived on McClure’s family’s property in Burlington County, New Jersey. Bobbitt was also given $25,000, some of which he allegedly spent on drugs.
McClure eventually confessed to using the donations to pay for cars, vacations, and other items — but she claimed she only intended to get $10,000 from the GoFundMe, which was aimed at getting Bobbitt a home.
The couple and Bobbitt were believed to have known each other for a month before starting the GoFundMe campaign.
In March 2019, McClure pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud, while Bobbitt confessed to conspiring to commit money laundering.
D’Amico’s sentencing is scheduled for March. Bobbitt and McClure are also expected to be sentenced in early 2022.
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[Featured image: Katelyn McClure, Johnny Bobbitt Jr./GoFundMe]