This past Friday, a woman was officially issued a sentence of three years in New Jersey state prison for taking part in a massive scam that ended up stealing $400,000 from people by using a GoFundMe campaign.
“This sentencing brings to a close a case that defrauded more than 14,000 people whose decency and compassion for others elicited a tremendously heartwarming response to assist someone they believed was truly in need,” explained Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw.
“With the new year comes new hope for a better world, and our wish is that prosecutions like this will serve to deter criminals from such deceitful actions, but not discourage individuals from caring about those who are in crisis as a result of a tragedy, or simply need a helping hand after experiencing a hardship or setback,” continued Bradshaw.
A 32-year-old woman hailing from Burlington Township, New Jersey, Katelyn McClure worked alongside Mark D’Amico, her former boyfriend, to create a GoFundMe page back in November of 2017. The funds were allegedly being gathered for Johnny Bobbitt, and the fundraiser stated that he was a homeless veteran who lived in the Philadelphia area, stated prosecutors.
Both McClure and D’Amico stated that on the platform that Bobbitt had given money to McClure when she needed to get gasoline, which prosecutors claimed was a wholesale fabrication. The couple stated that they were attempting to gather $10,000 for Bobbitt, but they ended up raking in well over $402,000. They, however, did not hand over all of the money to Bobbitt and instead spent a chunk of the money on gambling, a new BMW, a vacation, and Louis Vuitton items.
This recent sentencing will result in her spending time in a state prison, but she is already carrying out a different federal sentence of 366 days and was not at the hearing for sentencing because of being locked up in federal prison. The state sentence will be served at the same time as the federal sentence.
Bobbitt slammed both of them with a lawsuit, stating that he had not gotten all of the funds from the page. However, officials claimed that he had spoken about a different encounter with another woman on his Facebook page in 2012. Later in 2019, he pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception, Second Degree.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for GoFundMe stated that “we take the misuse of our platform very seriously.”
“While the overwhelming majority of people use our platform every day to help others, we are aware that bad actors do exist and will attempt to take advantage of people’s generosity,” the statement explained. It also explained that for this event, GoFundMe “refunded 100 percent of all donations through our GoFundMe Giving Guarantee and, as we always do, we worked closely with law enforcement to ensure justice was done.”