A woman from New Jersey was convicted in connection with a GoFundMe fraud that garnered $400,000 by faking a claim about a homeless veteran.
Katelyn McClure, 32, of Bordentown, was given a one-year and one-day jail term on Thursday, followed by three years of supervised release, according to the Burlington County Sheriff’s Office. In addition, McClure must make a $400 000 reparation payment.
McClure and her 43-year-old then-boyfriend Mark D’Amico started the “Paying It Forward” GoFundMe campaign in November 2017. Said when McClure ran out of gas on a Philadelphia highway, the pair claimed homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr., 39, handed her his last $20.
The GoFundMe campaign, which had a $10,000 target, raised $400,000 from 14,000 donors. The story, however, was entirely made up, since the couple met Bobbitt at a local casino.
“In reality, McClure never ran out of gas and Bobbitt never spent his last $20 for her,” prosecutors wrote in a press release. “D’Amico and McClure allegedly conspired to create the false story to obtain money from donors.”
“The donated funds were transferred by D’Amico and McClure from GoFundMe into accounts that they controlled,” the Burlington County Sheriff’s Office continued. Adding that ” D’Amico and McClure reportedly spent the majority of the money on personal expenses over the next three months.”
Bobbitt sued D’Amico and McClure in 2019, saying he only received $75,000 from the donations after D’Amico and McClure spent the remainder of the money on trips, new cars, and other luxury stuff.
In 2019, D’Amico pled guilty and accepted a plea bargain. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison in April of last year. Bobbitt entered a guilty plea and is awaiting sentencing.