Woman sentenced to three years in prison for $58,000 GoFundMe scam involving homeless people

A New Jersey woman pleaded guilty to defrauding 14,000 donors around the world who donated money to a GoFundMe page to help a homeless person.

Prosecutors told the court Kate McClure, 32, and her then-boyfriend fabricated a story that homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt came to McClure’s rescue when she found her at an exit off I-95 in Philadelphia on a cold November night in 2017 the petrol had run out. They claimed Bobbitt, who was part of the scam, gave them his last $20 to buy gas. Her story, including a photo of the trio, went viral and the three appeared on national television to promote the campaign.

Johnny Bobbitt, left, Mark D'Amico and Kate McClure in Philadelphia last November.

Johnny Bobbitt, left, Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure in Philadelphia last November. Credit:The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP

McClure was not present in the Mount Holly courtroom on Friday for her sentencing because she is serving a one-year federal sentence in the case. Her state prison sentence will run concurrently, and the former Department of Transportation employee will be banned from ever working as a public employee in New Jersey again.

Burlington County prosecutors said McClure and Mark D’Amico dreamed up the Good Samaritan story in November 2017.

The three conducted newspaper and television interviews and solicited donations, allegedly to help Bobbitt, through a GoFundMe campaign they dubbed “Paying It Forward,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the campaign raised more than $400,000 (US$58,000) from about 14,000 donors in one month and was the largest scam perpetrated through the crowdfunding platform at the time.

Authorities began investigating after Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of not giving him the money. They eventually determined that all of the money was spent by March 2018, with McClure and D’Amico spending large chunks on a recreational vehicle, a BMW, and trips to casinos in Las Vegas and New Jersey.

D’Amico, 43, pleaded guilty in December 2019 and was sentenced to five years in state prison, a sentence that also coincided with a previous federal sentence. He and McClure were both instructed to fully refund GoFundMe. Bobbitt was sentenced to federal and state terms with probation.

AP

https://www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/woman-jailed-for-three-years-for-58-000-gofundme-scam-involving-homeless-man-20230108-p5cb13.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_world Woman sentenced to three years in prison for $58,000 GoFundMe scam involving homeless people

Callan Tansill

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