A New Jersey woman who was once a media darling for her good deed has been fined $402,000 and sentenced three years in state prison for scamming thousands of donors through GoFundMe, prosecutors have revealed.
Katelyn McClure, a 32-year-old from Burlington Township, New Jersey, is concurrently serving a one-year sentence at a federal prison in Connecticut for her role in the scam.
McClure and her boyfriend at the time, Mark D’Amico, came up with a story in 2017 about a homeless veteran named Johnny Bobbitt Jr., claiming he spent his last $20 to help McClure pay for fuel when her car ran out of gas in Philadelphia.
On a now-deleted GoFundMe page titled “Paying It Forward” the campaign had a listed goal of $10,000 to pay for Bobbitt to rent an apartment, get a vehicle, and have six months of living expenses.
Over 14,000 donors contributed to the campaign, which took in over $400,000.
Bobbitt then sued the couple, claiming he never received any of the money. McClure and D’Amico denied the claim, saying that Bobbitt was a drug addict, and even went on Megyn Kelly’s show to defend themselves.
“It’s so hard to deal with; people are getting one side of the story,” McClure told Kelly as she fought back tears.
However, the real story is that McClure and D’Amico squandered the money, going on a spending spree that included “casino gambling and personal items such as a BMW, a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon and Louis Vuitton hand bags,” according to prosecutors.
It was only after discovering the funds were spent that Bobbitt took legal action, claiming he only received $75,000 of the sum. However, McClure, D’Amico, and Bobbitt were all charged for concocting the story. Bobbitt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit theft by deception (second degree).
D’Amico was sentenced in August 2022 to five years in New Jersey state prison, after pleading guilty in December 2019 to misapplication of entrusted property (second degree).
McClure, who said D’Amico directed her to advance the story, pled guilty in New Jersey Superior Court in April 2019 to theft by deception (second degree). As well, since McClure was a state Department of Transportation worker, she was also permanently barred from public employment as part of her sentence.
At the time, the campaign was the largest fraud ever perpetrated through GoFundMe’s platform.