BREAKING NEWS FDA grants emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine Full Story

Police say the fundraiser for the homeless man was a scam. Now GoFundMe has refunded the money

GoFundMe has made refunds to thousands of people who donated money to a feel-good story that police say turn...

Posted: Dec 26, 2018 1:54 PM
Updated: Dec 26, 2018 1:54 PM

GoFundMe has made refunds to thousands of people who donated money to a feel-good story that police say turned out to be an elaborate scam.

A New Jersey couple and a homeless man are accused of concocting the scheme, which raised more than $400,000.

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Campaign finance

Companies

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal offenses

Crowdfunding

Elections and campaigns

GoFundMe

Government and public administration

Larceny and theft

Political donations and fundraising

Politics

Property crimes

Sharing and on-demand economy

Homelessness

Poverty and homelessness

Social and economic status

Societal issues

Society

"All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded. GoFundMe always fully protects donors, which is why we have a comprehensive refund policy in place," said GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne. The campaign had attracted some 14,000 donors.

The scam

The couple, Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, and the homeless man, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., face charges of second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

The couple had said they met Bobbitt when he gave his last $20 to McClure, who was stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia, so she could put gas in her car, then started the GoFundMe campaign as a way to thank him.

"The paying-it-forward story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true," Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said at a news conference last month. "Unfortunately, it was. The entire campaign was predicated on a lie."

After fees, the proceeds of the campaign netted about $367,000, all deposited into McClure's accounts, Coffina said. Bobbitt received $75,000, and within months McClure and D'Amico had "squandered" their share to buy a car, high-end handbags and trips, Coffina said. They also used it at casinos, he said.

'Make people feel bad'

Coffina stressed that while Bobbitt, a veteran, deserves thanks for his service to the country and sympathy for his situation, he was fully complicit in the crime, making media appearances to help "promote the fraudulent campaign."

According to Coffina, McClure and D'Amico first met Bobbitt at an off-ramp near a casino they frequented, at least a month before the GoFundMe campaign went live.

They went back to the spot a month later, Coffina said. D'Amico took a picture of McClure and Bobbitt that became the face of the GoFundMe campaign that they started hours later, Coffina said.

Investigators reviewed more than 67,000 text messages in the case, including one McClure sent to a friend that read, "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."

In other texts, the couple discussed their inability to pay bills and their mounting debts.

Fighting fraud

GoFundMe's spokesman stressed the crowdfunding site is committed to fighting fraud.

"It's important to understand that misuse is very rare on our platform," Whithorne said. "Campaigns with misuse make up less than one tenth of one percent of all campaigns. We have a zero tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior. If fraud occurs, donors get refunded and we work with law enforcement officials to recover the money."

According to its website, the company has a Trust and Safety team that reviews GoFundMe campaigns around the clock and works to prevent fraud. It also guarantees a refund for donors in case "something isn't right" with a campaign, the site says.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 155315

Reported Deaths: 2208
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31853528
Washington21170212
Marion18416285
Clackamas13357175
Lane10224126
Jackson8377112
Umatilla765182
Deschutes594659
Yamhill377364
Linn358656
Malheur335058
Polk305342
Klamath278955
Douglas246354
Josephine233750
Benton233516
Jefferson195528
Coos148219
Union128419
Columbia126121
Wasco122126
Lincoln113120
Hood River106829
Morrow104714
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6567
Curry4266
Tillamook4142
Lake3756
Harney2736
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3563578

Reported Deaths: 51953
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119089421328
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2862912816
Orange2610223904
San Diego2596413271
Santa Clara1104221777
Kern102627826
Fresno952021443
Sacramento931801472
Alameda804961241
Ventura77534844
San Joaquin665691101
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus56024946
Tulare47784758
Monterey42138328
San Mateo38922515
San Francisco34213410
Santa Barbara31763409
Solano30024164
Merced28915397
Sonoma28063298
Imperial26888591
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15436209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12816185
Shasta10972174
Butte10941160
El Dorado9095100
Napa901469
Sutter884597
San Benito575959
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Nevada395274
Tuolumne394659
Mendocino379643
Amador345741
Humboldt318033
Lake315341
Glenn222023
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128737
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 58°
Brookings
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 52°
Medford
Partly Cloudy
58° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 58°
Medford
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 58°
Klamath Falls
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 50°
Very mild start to March
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events