Girlfriend Behind $400K ‘Paying it Forward’ GoFundMe Scam to Homeless Man Learns Fate in Court

The woman at the center of the $400k GoFundMe scam organized as a fundraiser for the homeless vet who gave away his last $20 to a stranded motorist, was sentenced Thursday to one year in federal prison.

Katelyn McLure, 32, was also sentenced to three years of supervised parole after her release and was ordered to pay back the $400,000 that was swindled from kind-hearted individuals who donated to the bogus online campaign.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Katelyn McClure and her boyfriend at the time, Mark D’Amico, created the GoFundMe under the guise of “paying it forward” to Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a homeless man who reportedly used his last $20 for gas after McClure was stranded on a Philadelphia highway late at night in November 2017. 

The inspiring story quickly grabbed media attention and the public was eager to help the down-and-out former vet. Over 14,000 people donated to the fraudulent campaign with the intention of helping the Good Samaritan find housing and pay living expenses.

The feel-good story began to unravel when a media outlet reported that Bobbitt was again homeless in the summer of 2018. The former marine, who was homeless and a drug addict, sued the couple for not giving him the proceeds from the online fundraiser. This prompted an investigation into the credibility of GoFundMe. 

Text messages show McClure and D’Amico met Bobbitt near the SugarHouse Casino and were interested in helping him. The couple decided to create the GoFundMe and set a goal of $10,000. The gas story was made up to garner sympathy and help raise more funds. 

In mid-November of 2017, when donations reached approximately $1,500, D’Amico and McClure finally told Bobbitt about the campaign and the false gas story. In December of 2017, after setting up a bank account for Bobbitt, D’Amico and McClure deposited $25,000 from the scheme into Bobbitt’s account. 

It was uncovered that the greedy duo spent the remaining funds from the scheme on a BMW, luxury items, gambling excursions, and vacations. 

D’Amico pleaded guilty and was sentenced in April to 27 months in prison; Bobbitt was sentenced in April 2019 to a combination drug court program and a 5-year probation term in Burlington County, NJ.

Prosecutors admitted they had sympathy for Bobbitt as a homeless drug addict and acknowledged his military service, but reminded the court that it was imperative to keep in mind that he was fully complicit in the scam. 

The trio will all be back in court next month for state sentencing.

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[Featured image: GoFundMe]