The story of the New Jersey woman who scammed people out of 400K by pretending to be a vagrant veteran is fascinating. Katie McClure and Mark D'Amico, her boyfriend, created a GoFundMe page titled Paying it Forward in November 2017.
They raised over $400,000 in just a few short weeks. The money was meant to help Johnny Bobbitt, a destitute veteran who had helped McClure when she ran out of gas.
The page stated that Bobbitt bought McClure gas with his last $20 to save her, and it had a $10,000 fundraising target to get Bobbitt off the streets and cover his living expenses.
National and local media outlets immediately got wind of the story and posted it. This led to more than 14,000 people contributing around $400,000 to the cause in less than three weeks.
However, it was all a lie. According to federal prosecutors, McClure did not run out of gas at any point, and Bobbitt did not give all the money he had - $20.
The couple set up fake charities to funnel the money, and they spent it on vacations, cars, and other luxury items.
After the couple opened a bank account for Bobbitt in December, they donated $25,000 to him. They agreed to give him all the money they had gotten on his behalf but never followed through.
When Bobbitt asked for proof that it was all the money they paid him, they gave excuses instead. This led to Bobbitt suing the couple.
The couple also hired an attorney, allegedly paying them more than half of what they raised from Bobbitt's story.
Eventually, the scam unraveled thanks to an investigation by NJ prosecutors and law enforcement officers in Philadelphia. McClure and D'Amico were arrested after charges of conspiracy and theft by deception were filed against them.
Judge Hillman gave a verdict that McClure is to pay $400,000 in restitution and spend three years under supervised release. D'Amico already made a guilty plea and got a 27-month jail term in April 2022.
Bobbitt pleaded guilty and is now awaiting a sentence.