The Swindle: Group Facing Jail Time After Making $400K Off Fake GoFundMe Campaign

A New Jersey couple and an alleged homeless man fooled the nation with a heartwarming story rooted in greed. 

Thousands of GoFundMe campaigns are launched every year, with many focused on spreading kindness through the power of a dollar. As of late, several cases have questioned its nature including the case of New Jersey couple who reportedly teamed up with a Philadelphia homeless veteran in an elaborate scam to cash in on the nice gesture.

Couple Mark D'Amico, Kate McClure and homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr. were arrested Wednesday evening and will face conspiracy and theft by deception charges, ABC News reports. Bobbit, who was previously on the run for the case, was also charged with being a fugitive from justice. He is currently being transferred from Philly to Burlington County.

The story behind the group's GoFundMe came to be in 2017 when McClure said she was stranded around midnight on the I-95 exit ramp near Philadelphia when she ran out of gas. Bobbit, who was resting under an overpass, came over and gave her his last $20.

The deed inspired McClure and her boyfriend D'Amico to create a GoFundMe in an effort to pay it forward. The story quickly went viral when they raised $402,706 from 14,347 individual contributors instead of the proposed $10,000. They went from talk show to talk show playing up their newfound friendship.

Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina released a statement about the case Thursday (Nov. 15), confirming the group decided to make up a heartwarming story to make money.

“Less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live—McClure in a text exchange with a friend—stated that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was ‘completely made up,’" the statement reads. "She did not run out of the gas on the I-95 off-ramp, and he did not spend his last $20 helping her. Rather, D’Amico, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to fabricate and promote a feel-good story that would compel donors to contribute to their cause.”

Before the swindle was exposed, the group of friends was already falling apart. In August, Bobbit told reporters he was only given $75,000 of the $400,000 raised. He also was given an RV to sleep in near the couple's home but was taken away from in June when he was kicked off the property.

The money also remained in the couple's bank account and the RV was also in their name. He sued the couple over mismanagement of funds. The couple retaliated, claiming Bobbit was given $200,000 and burned through $25,000 in less than two weeks on drugs and sending money to family.

The investigation into the couple's handling of the money revealed their elaborate spending habits. Several social posts from McClure showcased the couple taking trips to Las Vegas for New Year's Eve, helicopter rides, front row Broadway tickets and luxury shopping sprees. Police raided their home in September, seizing a BMW, jewelry and other items.

During the investigation, more clues suggested that the group were all in on the scam, which was to create a GoFundMe just to make money.

If convicted of the charges, all three will face up to 20 years in prison.

READ MORE: Family Of Hate Crime Victim Demands NYPD To Release Footage Of Stabbing

From the Web

More on Vibe

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Drake Debuts “Laugh Now Cry Later” Feat. Lil Durk

Champagne Papi hit fans with his second single in a matter of months.  “Laugh Now, Cry Later” arrived on Friday (Aug. 14) along with a cameo-heavy music video.

In the visual, Drake lives out his dream of being a professional athlete, complete with an oversized “draft day” suit (à la LeBron James in 2003). The 33-year-old rapper also shows off his range as both a dramatic actor (he sheds a tear, or two) and comedic actor.

Drizzy tapped director Dave Meyers for the music video, which features appearances from Kevin Durant, Marshawn Lynch, and Odell Beckham.

According to Drake's Instagram, “Laugh Now Cry Later” will appear on his forthcoming studio album, Certified Lover Boy.


View this post on Instagram


Laugh Now Cry Later off my next studio album CERTIFIED LOVER BOY 👌🏽 video link in bio

A post shared by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on Aug 13, 2020 at 9:02pm PDT

Drake’s last single, “Toosie Slide,” seemed tailored for the TikTok era and quickly shot to the top of the Billboard charts. “Laugh Now Cry Later” will likely make its way to the TikTok crowd, but the song offers a celebratory anthem perfect for the club, and other post-pandemic shenanigans.

Peep the music video below.

Continue Reading
Mike Windle/Getty Images for ASCAP

NO I.D.’s Entire Music Catalog Acquired By Hipgnosis

Chicago super producer NO I.D.'s entire music catalog has been sold to Hipgnosis. The company acquired 100% of the Grammy winner’s global copyrights and publishing royalties, including writer’s income, Billboard reports.

Founded by music veteran and artist manager, Merck Mercuriadis, Hipgnosis is a British music IP investment and management company “established to offer investors a pure-play exposure to songs and associated musical intellectual property rights.”

“Not many have the best intentions for the artist and the creators,” No I.D. said in a statement. “Merck and the Hipgnosis team have shown that they are a safe home for the songs that score our lives.”

Born Earnest Dion Wilson, the Windy City native -- and longtime producer for Jay Z and Kanye West -- has worked with a long list of recording artists including Jhene Aiko, Common, Big Sean, Killer Mike, Drake, Young Jeezy, Vince Staples, Rihanna, Rick Ross, and more. His extensive catalog includes “Run This Town,” “I Used to Love HER,” and “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).

“The words NO I.D. are a stamp of excellence on any album,” said Mercuriadis. “From Kanye West’s '808s & Heartbreak’, 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ and 'Yeezus’ to Jay-Z’s astonishing run from 'American Gangster’ through 'The Blueprint 3’, 'Magna Carta Holy Grail’ and '4:44’, Dion has been in the middle of everything that is great about Hip Hop for more than two decades. He is a special creator and everyone in the Hipgnosis Family is proud to have him standing next to us.”

Continue Reading
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Watch Ciara Celebrate Black Excellence In “Rooted” Video

Ciara connects to her roots and celebrates Black excellence in the music video for “Rooted.” Released on Thursday (Aug. 13), the up-tempo track, featuring Ester Dean, plays as a love letter to Blackness and a reminder that “everything you need to survive and thrive is rooted in you.”

The music video was filmed just two days before Cici gave birth to son, Win Wilson, and is the latest release under her record label, Beauty Marks Entertainment. A portion of the song’s proceeds will go to support Grantmakers for Girls of Color, a philanthropic organization “dedicated to cultivating investments in support of girls of color (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian and Pacific American) in the United States.”

The inspiring music video ends with a note of motivation from Ciara, “To all my Young Rosa’s and Young Luther’s keep marching. Don’t stop fighting for what you believe in. To all my Black Queens and Kings, continue to plant and spread seeds of love, hope and pride in your tribe. Everything you need to survive and thrive is rooted in you. Stay rooted.”

Watch the music video for  “Rooted” below.

Continue Reading

Top Stories