New Jersey

New Jersey Woman in Alleged $400,000 GoFundMe Scam Was Duped by Ex-Boyfriend, Attorney Claims

Mark D'Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt are charged with conspiracy and theft by deception. GoFundMe said it will refund all 14,000 donors what they gave.

What to Know

  • A New Jersey couple as well as a homeless man in the GoFundMe controversy are all accused of making up the story
  • Mark D'Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt allegedly conspired with one another to make up a story in order to raise more than $400,000
  • The couple turned themselves in to Burlington County prosecutors last week

An attorney for a New Jersey woman charged with scamming GoFundMe donors with a story about a homeless veteran says she was duped by her former boyfriend. 

James Gerrow tells "Good Morning America" that Mark D'Amico was "calling the shots," and that Katelyn McClure thought she was helping Marine vet Johnny Bobbitt. 

McClure and D'Amico are charged with conspiracy and theft by deception. 

Authorities allege they conspired with Bobbitt to concoct a feel-good story about Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 when her car ran out of gas. Bobbitt also faces charges.

They raised $400,000, which authorities say was spent on luxury items and casino trips. The campaign made national headlines. GoFundMe immediately announced all 14,000 donors would be refunded once the three were charged. 

It's not clear who represents D'Amico. An attorney who was representing the couple last week didn't immediately return an email seeking comment Monday. 

Authorities believe the three met at least a month before the campaign was launched, possibly on one of many trips McClure and D'Amico made to SugarHouse Casino. 

Burlington County, New Jersey, Prosecutor Scott Caffina said that within hours of the three launching the campaign on the GoFundMe website last November, McClure texted a friend that the majority of the story was fabricated. 

"Ok, so wait. The gas part is completely made up. The guy isn't," McClure allegedly texted the friend after the campaign went live Nov. 10 with a photo of a smiling McClure and Bobbitt. 

"So shush about the made up stuff," she added, according to Caffina. 

The backbone of the story was that Bobbitt used $20 to help McClure get gas when her car ran out on I-95 at the Girard Avenue exit. McClure and D'Amico then launched a GoFundMe page to supposedly raise money for Bobbitt, and the page brought in more than $400,000 from 14,000 contributors. 

At first, the account led to appearances for Bobbitt and McClure on national TV programs. But it turned into a dispute over the money. 

Bobbitt accused the couple of dipping into the funds and using them as a "personal piggy bank" to bankroll a lifestyle they couldn't afford. 

Bobbitt later sued the couple over mismanagement of the funds and a judge ordered sworn statements to determine what happened to the cash, which Bobbitt's attorney, Chris Fallon, said had disappeared. 

The couple denied any wrongdoing and accused Bobbitt of spending $25,000 in less than two weeks last year on drugs as well as paying for overdue legal bills and sending money to family.

The couple's lawyer, Ernest Badway, later said Bobbitt had gotten about $200,000. But Fallon said his client had received only about $75,000. 

The couple also bought Bobbitt a camper with some of the cash and parked it on land McClure's family owns in New Jersey. But Bobbitt became homeless again after D'Amico told him in June that he had to leave the property. 

In September, police raided the couple's home in Florence, New Jersey, hauling away a new BMW on a flatbed truck. Badway said that all the couple's personal and business financial statements, along with jewelry and cash, were seized in the raid. At that point, officials said the couple was under investigation, though no charges had been filed. 

D'Amico was arrested in September in Burlington County on an unrelated $500 warrant for an October 2017 traffic stop, according to officials. At the time, he was driving on a suspended license and also had a broken tail light. He also failed to appear in court on two separate occasions, according to court records.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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