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New Jersey Couple’s GoFundMe Scam Exposed - Carlos Gamino
News from Attorney Carlos Gamino

New Jersey Couple’s GoFundMe Scam Exposed

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By Carlos Gamino

You might recognize the names Katelyn McClure, Mark D’Amico and Johnny Bobbitt – they’re the trio that rocketed to fame when McClure ran out of gas on a deserted highway and Bobbitt came to her rescue. McClure and her boyfriend, D’Amico, started a GoFundMe campaign that raised more than $400,000 in donations for Bobbitt – a Marine Corps veteran – to get a fresh start after a long struggle with drug addiction and homelessness.

Except that’s not really what happened.

“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said at a news conference in mid-November.

As it turns out, all three parties were in on the scam designed to bilk hundreds of thousands of dollars out of generous-spirited donors. 

The three have each been charged with second-degree felonies in New Jersey. If convicted, they could all face up to 10 years in prison.

The couple appeared on several TV talk shows and participated in scores of interviews about their “good deed” as police worked to piece together the mystery. They acquired more than 67,000 text messages and Facebook messages that ultimately led to the criminal charges – including a text McClure made to a friend that said, “The gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn’t. I had to make something up to make people feel bad.”

Court documents say that “the evidence developed over the course of this investigation demonstrates that D’Amico and McClure had known Bobbitt for at least a month or more prior to the date of the GoFundMe ‘Paying it Forward’ campaign’s launch, as they had met him on their frequent trips to a local gambling casino.”

Things fell apart when the couple refused to give Bobbitt his full share. McClure and D’Amico allegedly only gave the man $75,000, and he then accused them of withholding the money, which the couple burned through in five short months.

“[Bobbitt] deserves our appreciate for his willingness to serve our country as a United States Marine and he has our sympathy and concern for the homelessness he has experienced as well as his publicized struggle with addiction. But it is imperative to keep in mind that he was fully complicit with this scheme to defraud contributors, promoting the campaign in multiple media appearances and posing with D’Amico and McClure for a Philadelphia Inquirer story in front of a gas station that he did not buy gas from,” said Coffina.

GoFundMe has agreed to refund all donors the money that went into this campaign.

What Do You Think?

Will this story make you think twice about donating to a cause for people you don’t know, or are they just a couple of bad apples? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or join the conversation on Twitter.

Carlos Gamino