A New Jersey lady was sentenced to jail after being found guilty of a federal violation in connection with a $400 000 GoFundMe scam that was disguised as helping a homeless veteran who assisted the victim when she ran out of petrol.
Katelyn McClure, 32, of Bordentown, was given a jail term of one year and one day on Thursday by U.S. District Judge Noel L. Hillman for the well publicized deception she pulled off with her ex-boyfriend Mark D’Amico to raise money for a purportedly homeless “Good Samaritan” named Johnny Bobbitt.
Prior to that, she entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiring to conduct wire fraud.
In November 2017, McClure and D’Amico, both 43, reportedly set up the “Paying It Forward” crowdsourcing page on the GoFundMe website, where they posted a claim that McClure had run out of petrol while returning from Philadelphia on Interstate 95.
The website said that Bobbitt bought McClure petrol with his last $20 in order to save her, and it established a $10,000 fundraising target to get Bobbitt off the streets and cover his living costs.
The tale was rapidly picked up by regional and national media sites, went viral, and in less than three weeks, more than 14,000 people contributed around $400,000 to the cause. However, according to federal prosecutors, McClure never ran out of gas and Bobbitt never gave her his final $20.
According to allegations, D’Amico and McClure worked together to fabricate the tale in order to solicit donations.
The GoFundMe donations were moved by D’Amico and McClure into their own accounts. Over the following three months, the pair reportedly spent the majority of the money on personal costs, including a luxurious vacation to Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve, a BMW, jewelry, and bags.
According to the Justice Department, D’Amico and McClure informed Bobbitt about the campaign and the hoax gas narrative in mid-November 2017, when donations had topped $1,500.
D’Amico and McClure opened a bank account for Bobbitt and transferred $25,000 of the scheme’s earnings into it in December 2017. The destitute man then hired a lawyer, and the couple kept the remaining money for themselves.
Judge Hillman also ordered McClure to pay $400,000 in restitution and sentenced her to three years of supervised release in addition to the jail term. D’Amico already entered a guilty plea and received a 27-month jail term in April 2022; Bobbitt entered a guilty plea and is presently awaiting sentencing.