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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024

A charitable scam unravelled: Couple’s fundraising scheme for ‘homeless man’ ends in conviction

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Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure’s GoFundMe campaign to aid a supposed homeless veteran was exposed as a deceit, leading to legal repercussions

In a plot that seemed drawn from a movie, Mark D’Amico and his then-girlfriend Katelyn McClure concocted a story in 2017 that tugged at the heartstrings of thousands. They claimed to be raising funds for Johnny Bobbitt, a 39-year-old alleged veteran they said had generously assisted McClure when she ran out of gas on a Philadelphia highway. Their GoFundMe campaign, aimed at raising $10,000, skyrocketed to $400,000 thanks to the generosity of over 14,000 donors.

However, the heartwarming narrative began to crumble when Bobbitt sued the couple, accusing them of not handing over the funds. Investigations ensued, revealing that by March 2018, the trio had squandered all the money on personal luxuries, including casino gambling, a BMW, luxury vacations, and high-end fashion items.

The truth unravelled further when prosecutors disclosed that Bobbitt was in on the scam from the start, having met the couple near a Philadelphia casino before the story went public. Burlington Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw condemned the deception, highlighting the betrayal of the thousands who donated out of kindness.

The legal system swiftly responded. Bobbitt admitted to conspiracy to commit money laundering and was sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to repay $25,000. This was in addition to a previous five-year probation sentence on state charges in 2019.

D’Amico faced federal charges, resulting in a 27-month prison sentence and a restitution order. McClure, too, faced the consequences of her actions. She received a one-year prison sentence and three years of supervised release, followed by an additional three-year sentence for theft by deception, to be served concurrently.

The case serves as a cautionary tale about the potential for exploitation in the digital age, where sympathy can be manipulated for personal gain, ultimately undermining genuine charitable efforts and eroding public trust.

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