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December 25, 2018

GoFundMe refunds thousands of donors in N.J. trio's viral $400,000 scam

Investigations Crowdfunding
Kate McClure Johnny Kate McClure/GoFundMe

Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt, the homeless man who helped her after she got stranded on I-95 in Philadelphia. McClure started a crowdfunding effort that raised more than $400,000 to help the veteran get back on his feet. But now much of the money is reporting missing.

GoFundMe has reportedly given refunds to more than 14,000 people who donated to the viral scam allegedly hatched last year by a New Jersey couple and a homeless accomplice. 

Katelyn McClure and ex-boyfriend Marc D'Amico raised over $400,000 last winter when the couple claimed Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless veteran, spent his last $20 on gas to help a stranded McClure on I-95. Donors were led to believe the money would go toward helping Bobbitt rebuild his life.

“All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded,” a GoFundMe spokesperson told PEOPLE

The feel-good story turned sour when Bobbitt accused the couple of keeping the majority of the money for themselves, allegedly spending it on fancy vacations and luxury purchases. 

Their bitter argument over the money in court drew the attention of Burlington County prosecutors. 

Authorities said the trio, who allegedly met a month before the staged highway incident, conspired to fabricate a tale that would garner sympathy from the public on GoFundMe. Bobbitt allegedly got the idea from what prosecutors called a "remarkably similar story" posted on his Facebook page six years ago. 

The ensuing case has become a high-profile fiasco as D'Amico, McClure and Bobbitt all face charges of theft by deception and conspiracy. If convicted, they could each spend up to 10 years in prison.