Updated: 10:26 PM ET, Mon April 15, 2019
A woman in New Jersey is facing up to four years in state prison for her role in scamming more than $400,000 from GoFundMe donors, claiming that the money donated was for a homeless man in Philadelphia.
On Monday in Burlington County, New Jersey, Katelyn McClure, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of theft by deception in the second degree.
In the viral story which took place in 2017 and made national headlines, New Jersey resident McClure suddenly ran out of gas and was stranded on Interstate 95 in Philadelphia. Johnny Bobbitt Jr, a homeless man, supposedly saw her and gave her his last $20 to help her get some gas.
McClure and her then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, took to social media to post about the “good deed,” including a picture of her with Bobbitt on a highway ramp. The couple decided to start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for the homeless man, saying they wanted to pay it forward to the good Samaritan so they could get him off the streets.
The story soon took a turn for the worst after Bobbitt sued both McClure and D’Amico, accusing them of withholding the money raised on his behalf.
It was later found out in a statement that the story wasn’t true. “In reality, McClure never ran out of gas and Bobbitt never spent his last $20 for her,” according to a US Attorney’s Office press release. “D’Amico and McClure allegedly conspired to create the false story to obtain money from donors.”
The story was a scam to steal 400k in donations. The couple transferred the raised funds to their bank accounts and bought a new BMW, expensive designer handbags, and went on trips, including to casinos in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada, according to court documents.
GoFundMe has since refunded the money back to thousands of people that donated to the cause, thinking they were giving to Bobbitt. Both McClure and Bobbitt must pay back the money in restitution, per their state court plea deals.
As of now, federal cases have not been settled. After pleading guilty, McClure could face upward to 20 years in prison and a whopping $250,000 fine for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. She will is to be sentenced on June 19.
After pleading guilty, Bobbitt could be facing 10 years behind bars and also a $250,000 fine on the federal charge for one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. It’s confirmed that Bobbitt will be sentenced at a later date.