Wednesday, 20 March, 2019

Couple, Homeless Man Charged in Charitable Scam 15 November 2018

Johnny Bobbitt left with Kate Mc Clure and Mark D'Amico Modal Trigger Johnny Bobbitt left with Kate Mc Clure and Mark D'Amico GoFundMe
Andrew Cummings | 16 November, 2018, 09:24

But the couple, who officials said were hard up for cash themselves, had actually known Bobbitt for at least a month, occasionally spotting him $10 or a cup of coffee as he panhandled near an underpass by Philly's SugarHouse Casino, the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office said in a Thursday press briefing. Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless man, was allegedly panhandling nearby, and used his last $20 to buy McClure enough gas to get home. They said they gave Bobbitt $200,000 and that $150,000 remained. That story combined with the photo became a wallet-opening viral juggernaut, garnering national headlines and news segments. They said Bobbitt only saw $75,000 of the almost $400,000 he was owed.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said while Bobbitt should be praised for his service in the U.S. Marine Corps, he was fully complicit in the scheme.

At the time, he wrote that he had come across a woman who had run out of gas and had a flat tire at a Walmart in North Carolina.

It found McClure and D'Amico had conspired with Bobbitt to concoct an elaborate ruse to con unsuspecting donors moved by their fictional feel-good story, according to a complaint obtained by NBC Philadelphia. And it worked in a very big way. "It was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences".

It has also been reported that, just hours after the campaign was launched, McClure texted a friend and admitted that the bulk of the story was fabricated.

The charges stem from the "Paying It Forward" GoFundMe campaign that authorities say was based on a story that was "completely made up". "I had to make something up to make people feel bad ... So shush about the made up stuff".

"All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign will receive a full refund", says GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne in an email to Fast Company. The exact timeline for that isn't clear but will be "in the coming days" ahead.

"By the middle of March, D'Amico and McClure squandered the vast amount of money", Coffina said. They splurged on a BMW, spent lavishly on vacations, purchased high-end handbags and "hit the casinos".

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Coffina said no assistance was ever given at or near a gas station, citing some of the more than 60,000 text messages he said investigators had pored over in the case.

More than 14,000 people donated, many inspired by the details like Mr Bobbitt instructing Ms McClure to lock her vehicle doors before he returned with a can of petrol.

Prosecutors began investigating after Bobbitt claimed he wasn't getting the money that had been raised on his behalf.

His legal eagles claimed he had only received $75,000. The couple maintained they had given him $200,000 over several months.

It all went downhill when Bobbitt accused the New Jersey couple of spending his money and holding back finances. "That's like me handing him a loaded gun", D'Amico told the Philadelphia Inquirer at the time.

The development came as a New Jersey prosecutor planned to announce developments in a criminal investigation related to the fundraiser that raised $400,000 for Bobbitt. In 2012, he posted a similar tale on his Facebook page, only in that version Bobbitt lived in North Carolina and said the woman was stranded by an empty gas tank and a flat tire. He said he had given her the last of his money.

"I don't think that's a coincidence", Coffina said.

A Philadelphia prisons spokeswoman says Johnny Bobbitt was brought in Wednesday night by USA marshals and remained in custody Thursday on probation detainers and a $50,000 bond. He is awaiting an extradition hearing.

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