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Woman receives prison sentence for raising $400,000 for homeless man that was actually a scam

Woman receives prison sentence for raising $400,000 for homeless man that was actually a scam

Prosecutors said most of the money was 'squandered' on a cars, luxury accessories, trips and gambling

A woman has received a hefty prison sentence after raising $400,000 on GoFundMe for a homeless man that turned out to be a scam.

Katelyn McClure and her boyfriend at the time, Mark D'Amico, first hit the headlines back in 2017 for a seemingly heartwarming gesture.

The pair set up a GoFundMe campaign named 'Pay It Forward', claiming to be raising money to help a homeless man named Johnny Bobbitt.

Alongside a photo of McClure and Bobbitt, the page said: "When Kate ran out of gas, Johnny used his last $20 to help her get to safety. Now this formerly homeless vet will get a place to live and a truck."

McClure claimed she was stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia when Bobbitt helped her out.

Although the initial goal for the veteran was set at $10,000, the campaign soon went viral and prosecutors in the case said it raised over $400,000 from approximately 14,000 donors.

At first, it appeared to be nothing more than a good deed story with a positive ending.

However, things took a turn in 2018 when Bobbitt sued the New Jersey couple and accused them of only handing over

$75,000 of the proceedings.

Katelyn McClure has received more time behind bars for her role in the scam.
Burlington County Prosecutor's Office

They initially denied the claims, but the case led authorities to investigate further and they discovered that all three parties had been involved in a shocking swindle.

Part of the evidence included more than 67,000 text messages relating to the incident, including one from McClure sent to a friend which said: "Okay 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."

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina alleged in a press conference back in 2018 that most of the money was 'squandered' by McClure and D'Amico on a vehicle, luxury accessories and trips and at casinos.

"The paying-it-forward story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true," he said. "Unfortunately, it was. The entire campaign was predicated on a lie."

In the latest court case on the scam, Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia Bradshaw announced on Friday, January 6, that McClure had been sentenced to three years in New Jersey State Prison for participating in the fraudulent scheme.

This was the photo that appeared on the GoFundMe page.

The 32-year-old was not present at the courthouse as she's already serving a 366-day federal sentence in Connecticut for her role in the case.

Per a press release on the latest announcement: "The New Jersey sentence will run concurrent to the federal one."

Judge Garrenger also ruled that the former state Department of Transportation worker is now 'permanently barred from ever holding another position as a public employee'.

As for D'Amico, the prosecutor's office noted that the 43-year-old had already been sentenced to five years in New Jersey State Prison in August last year after pleading guilty in 2019 to second-degree Misapplication of Entrusted Property.

D’Amico is also serving federal time in Pennsylvania after receiving 27 months behind bars in April 2022, with his state and federal sentences running concurrently.

Although many assumed Bobbitt was innocent in all this, as said, the investigation showed he was complicit in the crime.

In 2019, Bobbitt pleaded guilty to second-degree Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception and was admitted into the New Jersey Judiciary’s Recovery Court program, which allows people with addiction problems to receive treatment instead of a prison sentence.

Katelyn (left) and former boyfriend Mark D’Amico (right) with Johnny Bobbitt (middle).

He also received a federal sentence of three years probation and was ordered to pay $25,000 in restitution.

Speaking about the shocking case, prosecutor Bradshaw said: "This sentencing brings to a close a case that defrauded more than 14,000 people whose decency and compassion for others elicited a tremendously heartwarming response to assist someone they believed was truly in need.

"With the new year comes new hope for a better world, and our wish is that prosecutions like this will serve to deter criminals from such deceitful actions, but not discourage individuals from caring about those who are in crisis as a result of a tragedy, or simply need a helping hand after experiencing a hardship or setback."

Featured Image Credit: ABC News/GoFundMe

Topics: US News, Crime, Money