After a false story of goodwill led to over $400,000 in donations, the site GoFundMe will be refunding the amount back to donors.
Things started in 2017 when a story of a homeless man donating his last $20 to fill a stranded woman’s gas tank went viral.
Johny Bobbitt, a homeless military vet was seen as a selfless hero for his charity to Kate McClure. McClure along with her boyfriend Mark D’Amico began a fundraiser on the popular website titled “Paying it forward,” were they recanted the tale and sought to compensate the impoverished veteran.
While the campaign was widely successful, things quickly unraveled when Bobbitt sought to sue, alleging that the funds accrued for him had not been delivered and were being squandered.
An investigation exposed that McClure and D’Amico actually had previously met Bobbitt at a casino and hatched the deceptive plan to lure good hearted donors with the story in order to fill their pockets.
It was exposed that not even an hour after the campaign went live D’Amico had sent texts to friends admitting the scam. It was also discovered that McClure and D’Amico had spent large sums of the donation money on expensive shopping, elite vacations and a new BMW.
Now all three individuals are being charged with second-degree theft by deception as well as conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
While it is some consolation that those involved in the crime have been brought to justice, this left website GoFundMe holding the bill.
To its credit, GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne announced that “all donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded.”
Whithorne also noted that dishonest campaigns “make up less than one-tenth of 1 percent,” of those featured on the site.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior,” he said. “If fraud occurs, donors get refunded, and we work with law enforcement officials to recover the money.”