Alleged GoFundMe Fraud, Viral Feel Good Stories

[UPDATED] Homeless Philadelphia Man Claims Campaign Organizer Stole His GoFundMe Money

Homeless man GoFundMe

In November of 2017, Kate McClure of New Jersey found herself driving into Philadelphia with her gas light on. As has happened to just about all of us, she ran out of gas and found herself hoofing it to the nearest gas station. That’s when she says Johnny Bobbitt, a local homeless man, approached her. “He saw me pull over and knew something was wrong,” she wrote on a GoFundMe campaign she created to benefit the man [campaign archived here and here]. “He told me to get back in the car and lock the doors. A few minutes later, he comes back with a red gas can. Using his last 20 dollars to make sure I could get home safe.”

Well, the tale of generosity tugged at the heartstrings of 14,347 people who gave generously to the campaign set up for Bobbitt, totaling over $400,000 when all was said and done. Alas, no one in this story lived happily ever after.

The plan was to buy Bobbitt a house and his dream truck, according to an undated update to the original GoFundMe story. McClure writes:

The first thing on the list is a NEW Home which Johnny will own!! He will never have to worry about a roof over his head again!! Second will be the dream truck he’s always wanted… a 1999 ford ranger (yes I’m serious). There will also be 2 trusts set up in his name, one essentially giving him the ability to collect a small “salary” each year and another retirement trust which will be wisely invested by a financial planner which he will have access to in a time frame he feels comfortable with so when the time comes he can live his retirement dream of owning a piece of land and a cabin in the country. A bank account will be set up for him with funds for every day needs that will get him through until he finds a job. And lastly, he will be donating to a few organizations and people who over the last couple of years have helped him get through this rough patch in his life. This is a well thought out plan that Johnny his lawyer and financial advisor came up with in order to give Johnny the means to acclimate back into a “normal” life and also to protect him and ensure he has a bright future. I hope this will answer all the questions we have been getting about his plans. Once again, we couldn’t thank all of you enough for the kindness you have shown. Mark and I are beyond humbled and grateful that you took our little project and turned it into a world wide cause that thousands of people supported. The next update you receive will be from Johnny himself. He finally got his new computer and he is dying to thank all you personally!! You guys are amazing, keep checking in with us from time to time

An April update written by Barbara Boyer at the Philadelphia Inquirer says that never happened. Just a few short months after McClure and Bobbitt were doing the morning talk show circuit, Bobbitt was living in a trailer on McClure’s property. The red flags were practically bleeding all over Boyer’s update:

Months later, the spotlight has faded and reality has set in. The promise of a house gave way to a camper — his choice, Bobbitt says — parked on land McClure’s family owns in Florence, Burlington County, where she and D’Amico share a small house. The truck Bobbitt had coveted remains out of reach and the one he settled on instead wasn’t running and needs a new fuel filter — and in any case, he doesn’t have a driver’s license. He admits using some of the money from his many benefactors to buy drugs — a “small amount,” he said, without elaborating.

McClure and D’Amico now ration the money they give him for daily living and will not say how much money remains, how it is invested, or whether Bobbitt will ultimately be allowed to control it. The camper and the truck are both registered in McClure’s name, D’Amico said.

McClure and D’Amico agreed to speak only briefly. They declined to discuss many aspects of their relationship with Bobbitt, financial and otherwise, citing an exclusivity agreement that came with a recent book deal.

There has been tension between them and Bobbitt, even as they work toward a common goal of helping him rebuild his life.

Now comes news that McClure and her boyfriend may have frittered away as much as $200,000 of the GoFundMe raised for Bobbitt to get back on his feet, according to him.

In an Inquirer story by Boyer published August 23, Bobbitt accuses the couple of squandering a huge chunk of his money. Bobbitt is back to living under a bridge, regularly using drugs, and panhandling for spare change. Not exactly what you’d expect for a GoFundMe half-millionaire nearly a year after the life-changing campaign was started by a stranger.

“Giving him all that money, it’s never going to happen. I’ll burn it in front of him,” D’Amico told the Inquirer when pressed as to why Bobbitt is back to living under a bridge.

Bobbitt has suggested that D’Amico has a gambling problem, and has used some of the GoFundMe money for that purpose. Additionally, he’s skeptical that McClure was able to fund a new BMW on her modest receptionist’s salary, as well as numerous vacations including a helicopter tour over the Grand Canyon. “I think it might have been good intentions in the beginning, but with that amount of money, I think it became greed,” he told the Inquirer.

McClure and D’Amico did not provide a financial accounting of the funds to the paper. GoFundMe says it is investigating.

If it turns out that McClure and her boyfriend have misappropriated as much money as Bobbitt claims, it will be the largest GoFundMe theft case ever covered here in our three year history.

Update: WPVI in Philadelphia reports that the money is gone. Mark D’Amico and Kate McClure missed the judge’s deadline to turn over any remaining money, and Bobbitt’s lawyer says he discovered on a conference call Tuesday that there is nothing left.

9 Comments

  1. autumn

    These people are disgusting. The money was not for them to begin with, they shouldn’t of had any say regardless. I think they took full advantage of this man who is obviously a vulnerable adult. They clearly acted as if they were helping by “guiding” him along, when in reality they just wanted his money.

  2. Tim Burke

    Wow! What a couple of greedy DOUCHEBAGS!!!!
    Really? You’re going to point your finger at him calling him a drug addict and a gambler?!?!! Well at least he’s not a THIEF!! Which McClure and D’Amico clearly are. These 2 make me sick. My 30 year old sister passed away a couple of years ago leaving me, a 40 year old divorced guy in a 1 bedroom apartment 3 kids to take care of on a humble mechanics salary. I had $0 for funeral expenses $0 for childcare, and like 90% of other Americans I live paycheck to paycheck, so I tried to raise $6000 on gofundme.com to give my sister a proper burial and give my nieces and nephews a chance to mourn and stay together, but I got nothing. No I’m lying I got $20 from an old friend of mine and that was it.
    Then to see these two clowns use this mans hardship to fund this lifestyle of vacations, helicopter tours, and new cars really makes me sick to my stomach. They could have bought the man a $100k house, put some furniture in it, got him some new clothes, and done what was necessary to get his license and insurance together and that would have given him a great start to getting clean, getting a job, and getting himself in the direction he needs to head in. Instead, they bought BMW’s and flew out to Vegas on his dime!! I hope the man gets his head out of the clouds, crawls out from under that bridge and file a lawsuit against these 2 thieves before they blow whatever is left of his money.

    • Will Hall

      It was the homeless man’s money. If they gave it to him and he wastes it that is his problem. Saying someone is not capable of managing their own money is not an excuse to steal from them.

  3. Krystal

    If they were really concerned about his wellbeing, they would have deposited the money into a trust and hired a lawyer to appoint a guardian for him. Instead of buying hotel rooms, they should have taken him to Bridgeway and gotten him into inpatient rehab. They bought an RV and a truck “for him” but kept both in their name and then once they posted the update on gofundme, promptly sold both. The claims that he spent $25,000 on drugs in 13 days is preposterous. Even the most hardened heroin addict cant spend nearly $2,000 per day on drugs. (I have a family member in recovery) They would be dead before the first day is out unless they were hoarding it. I think their hearts might have been in the right place in the beginning but I doubt they anticipated the magnitude with which the campaign would explode and as they started watching the dollars mount by the second, greed took over.

    There was an update announced yesterday. They police raided their house, though just on a search warrant, as no criminal charges have been filed yet. There are photos of their house. It is little more than a shack, with overflowing garbage cans, derelict lawnmower sitting on an unkempt lawn, gutters full of leaves. For a couple that claims that they took 4 luxury vacations, purchased a brand new, $60,000 BMW and bought themselves all kinds of treats, dinners out, golf memberships, and designer clothes “with their own funds” they live an awfully paltry existence. Then again, the idea that a carpenter and a low ranking secretary could afford all of those toys is as preposterous as saying a man used to a $20 per day heroin habit being able to blow $25K on drugs in 13 days. Even in her recent appearance on television, Katie McClure had gone from mousy blond hair and cheap Charlotte Russe jackets to Anne Taylor slacks and a full head of expensive European tape in hair extensions. These vacations they took included helicopter tours over the Grand Canyon (Those average about $300 per person) and a trip to Disney World. (A $2,000 trip even if you bare bones it) They also went to Vegas and California over 4 separate trips. That is a heck of a lot of airfare, hotels, meals and excursions…. and a heck of a lot of time to be able to take off of work, even with vacation time.

    The police seized the BMW along with a couple dozen bags of “evidence” from the house, which I’m going to guess includes receipts, bank shopping bags, and recently purchased high end goods. I imagine the next stop for investigators WILL be her job… to speak with her co workers about her changes in dress, behavior and routine after the campaign closed and the money was withdrawn. Gofundme has also pledged that they will make sure that in the end, any part of the $400,000 that cant be recovered, either through seizing assets or coughing up where they have the rest of the cash stashed, will be restored to Mr. Bobbitt. As to what criminal charges they could be facing, the most obvious is Theft By Deception. I’m also sure that when the IRS gets involved they will also be facing felony tax evasion. Either way, this story is unraveling and this couple is going to be in a whole heap of trouble once its over. Between their assets being frozen and seized by the IRS to pay back taxes on $350,000 worth of income and the civil suits seize their property to settle debt, paired with there is no way any employer will ever touch them again, these two are going to learn VERY quickly how fast everything can change and what its like to truly have nothing.

    • Shay

      The BMW was around $12,000 it was an older version.. but sill.
      They are trash.
      They are going down.

  4. Shay

    Mark D’amico and Katelyn McClure are LIARs.
    They say $40-$50k went to Go Fund Me fees.
    Try again;
    Go fund me charges 2.9% + $0,30 per transaction. There were over 14,000 transactions and $400,000 raised. At most $16k was for fees.

    • GoFundMe switched to a “tip-based” fee model in late November of last year, some of the donations may have still been hit with the old 5% fee.

  5. Doctor Suckit

    Great idea – I am headed to the VA this afternoon to find myself a veteran to exploit. I’m just not getting the traction I had hoped doing the same thing with my retarded grandmother.

  6. Dan

    White trash that got their hands on more money than they’ll make in 10 years and couldn’t handle it.
    Why is GOFUNDME handing over that kind of money blindly anyway??
    I guess once they get their cut, they don’t care where it goes.

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