(CMR) The amazing story of a homeless man who helped a couple and then was rewarded with $400,000 in GoFundMe donations has now taking another interesting twist – the homeless man is being accused of being part of an original lie to scam people out of money.
What began as a feel-good story eventually turned into a criminal investigation after Bobbitt, a 35-year-old vet, accused McClure andÂ DâAmico of spending the more than $400,000 they raised for him on GoFundMe on lavish vacations and a new BMW.
People Magazine shared the following today:
A homeless man living in Philadelphia and a New Jersey couple have been charged for allegedly working together to concoct a scam that led to over $400,000 in GoFundMe donations.
Johnny Bobbitt, Kate McClure, 28, and her boyfriend Mark DâAmico, 39, have been officially charged by the Burlington County Prosecutorâs Office, according to FOX29. All three are facing second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commitÂ theft by deception.
McClure and DâAmicoÂ surrendered to police Wednesday but have since been released. Bobbit remains in custody in Philadelphia.
The prosecutorâs office announced the criminal charges against the trio during a news conference on Thursday, with county prosecutor Scott Coffina telling reporters that the entire story âwas predicated on a lie.â
âLess than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live McClure, in a text exchange with a friend, stated that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was fake,â Coffina said.
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 aÂ police search on the coupleâs home.
Now, in the latest twist, it appears it was all a ploy for the trio to raise money for themselves. The news comes weeks after a Burlington County Superior Court judgeÂ granted Badwayâs request to stay the civil suit, halting legal proceedings through Dec. 7 due to the prosecutorsâ initial criminal investigation.
The couple has long denied Bobbittâs allegations. And, during a September court appearance for an unrelated traffic warrant, DâAmico saidÂ everything would soon become âcrystal clearâÂ in his and McClureâs 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 Bobbittâs lawyers, according toÂ Good Morning America.
Officials with the fundraising site announced in September thatÂ Bobbitt would receive the aforementioned portion of the donationsÂ as a result of theirÂ GoFundMe Guarantee program, a policy that ensures recipients receive their money, or those who have donated receive refunds in the event of âcampaign misuse.â
In light of the new findings, Coffina said during the news conference that investigators are working with GoFundMe officials.
âGoFundMe has informed me that in light of the charges announced today, it will be providing a full refund to all donors of the âPay It Forwardâ campaign,â he said, according to ABC News.
In a statement, GoFundMe officials said: âAll donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign will receive a full refund. GoFundMe always fully protects donors, which is why we have a comprehensive refund policy in place. GoFundMe will process all refunds in the coming days. While this type of behavior by an individual is extremely rare, itâs unacceptable and clearly it has consequences. Committing fraud, whether it takes place on or offline is against the law. We are fully cooperating and assisting law enforcement officials to recover every dollar withdrawn by Ms. McClure and Mr. DâAmico.
âFinally, itâs important to understand that misuse is very rare on our platform. Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. We have a zero tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior. If fraud occurs, donors get refunded and we work with law enforcement officials to recover the money. One fraudulent campaign is one too many, but when it does take place, we take action to protect donors.â
Coffina also praised Bobbittâs military service in the United States Marine Corps but said he was âfully complicitâ in the scam.
âHe deserves our appreciation for his willingness to serve our country as a United States Marine and he has our sympathy and concern for the homelessness he has experienced as well as his publicized struggle with his addiction, but it is imperative to keep in mind he was fully complicit in this scheme to defraud contributors,â he said.