The Viral Homeless Vet GoFundMe That Raised $400K Was Allegedly a Scam
This story just keeps getting more messed up.
Photo via McClure's GoFundMe page
If you needed another example of how our world is a dark and depressing place where all good things are secretly awful, here you go: According to a new report from NBC Philadelphia, the viral GoFundMe campaign that raised over $400,000 to get a homeless vet back on his feet was allegedly just a scam to steal money from nice people.
Last year, a woman named Kate McClure claimed she was stranded on a Philadelphia roadway when a homeless man spent "his last $20" to buy her gas and help her out. McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D'Amico, started a GoFundMe to help repay the guy, who turned out to be a veteran named Johnny Bobbitt.
"Truly believe that all Johnny needs is one little break," McClure wrote on the GoFundMe page. "Hopefully with your help I can be the one to give it to him."
The story of Bobbitt's sweet, selfless act naturally struck a chord with people, and soon the GoFundMe page went viral, raising nearly half a million bucks. The whole thing seemed like one of those rare, straightforward tales of nice people doing nice things for each another, but then, uh, shit started getting weird.
In August, Bobbitt came forward to accuse McClure and D'Amico of refusing to give him almost $200,000 from the GoFundMe earnings. The couple said they were withholding the money until Bobbitt got clean—he'd apparently started using drugs—and then the police got involved, along with GoFundMe, which launched an investigation into the fundraiser. Now, according to NBC Philadelphia, McClure, D'Amico, and Bobbitt himself are accused of making the whole thing up.
In a criminal complaint, which made it into the hands of NBC Philadelphia, prosecutors say the trio faked the entire story about Bobbitt saving McClure in order to scam people on GoFundMe. A source told the NBC affiliate all three of them will now face charges of theft by deception and conspiracy, among others. McClure and D'Amico reportedly turned themselves in to prosecutors on Wednesday, and Bobbitt has been taken into custody as well, according to NJ.com. Details about how and why the trio conspired to pull off the elaborate ruse are still scarce, but it's likely we'll learn more as the charges are filed over the next few days.
If the accusations turn out to be true, it's easy to just write this whole mess off as another awful, messed up thing in a sea of awful, messed up things, but this fact still remains: tens of thousands of people came together to donate money and support Bobbitt out of the kindness of their hearts, scam or otherwise. That has to count for at least something, right?
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