A feel-good story about a New Jersey couple who raised over $400,000 to help a homeless good Samaritan - before they pilfered his GoFundMe account - was all a scam, a prosecutor said Thursday.
39-year-old Mark D'Amico (left), 28-year-old Kate McClure (center) and 35-year-old Johnny Bobbitt (right) are facing theft and conspiracy charges.
Kate McClure, 28, Mark D'Amico, 39, and drug-addicted homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt, 35, were charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, after the three concocted a story that Bobbitt had given McClure his last $20 after her car ran out of fuel, leaving her stranded on the side of I-95 in a dangerous Philadelphia neighborhood.
In numerous media appearances, McClure claimed she was driving to meet a friend in September 2017 when she ran out of gas around midnight on the I-95 exit ramp near Philadelphia and Bobbitt, who was sleeping under a nearby overpass, came to her rescue. She claimed Bobbitt spent his last $20 to buy her gas.
"I pulled over to the side of the road as far as I could and I was going to get out and walk to the nearest gas station because it was not that far away, and that's when I met Johnny," McClure said last November in a "Good Morning America" interview. "He walked up and he said, 'Get back in the car. Lock the doors. I'll be back.' I was just like, 'OK.'" -ABC
They said they wanted to "pay it forward," and established a GoFundMe campaign with an initial goal of raising $10,000. After the story went viral, the three raised $403,000.
The net proceeds were $360,000 after fees, which went into an acount controlled by McClure. Bobbitt received approximately $75,000 of it according to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
"The entire campaign was predicated on a lie," said Coffina during a Thursday news conference. "Less 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," he said.
In one of the texts read by Coffina, McClure allegedly wrote to a friend, "Ok, so wait, the gas part is completely made up but the guy isn't. I had to make something up to make people feel bad. So, shush about the made up stuff." -ABC
After the story went sideways - and reports emerged that the couple had pilfered most of the money meant for Bobbitt, police raided McClure and D'Amico's home looking for evidence in the case, and seizing a BMW they bought with charitable donations.