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

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Event attendees admire the limited-edition Sprite Ginger Collection items at the Sprite drop event at Extra Butter NY, on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020 in New York City.
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Sprite Launches Sprite Ginger Capsule Collection In New York City

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To celebrate the brand's "spirit of reinvention," Sprite worked with veteran streetwear designer Jeff Staple and a team of young tastemakers and artists to develop the limited-edition “Sprite Ginger Collection,” inspired by reinvention and by the facets of culture permeating hip hop, fashion, music, and art. At a private event earlier this month at New York City's Extra Butter, Sprite debuted the brand's first limited-edition creative capsule by Staple and 9 other creatives, which consists of hoodies, jackets, jewelry, tees and more.

During a panel discussion moderated by Hearst style director, Tiffany Reid, Staple alongside creatives BLUBOY, Barbara Rego and Elan Watson chatted about drop culture, how young artists can make their mark in the industry, and the importance of reinvention.

"Having a [fashion] brand for 20+ years almost requires you, necessitates you to reinvent yourself because there's no way you can do the same thing for, forget 20 years, even 3 years before you're literally dead," shared Staple. "To me, the opposite of reinvention is death because you're not moving forward. You're just completely stagnant.

"So for me, it was always me constantly trying every few seasons to figure out a way to reinvent myself. And not in a way where I needed to stay relevant. I never felt a need to stay relevant, but I wanted to actually be able to connect authentically with the next generation of creators because that is actually what inspires me."

Dapper Dan, Amara La Negra, Mack Wilds, and Sway Calloway were among the celebrities and influencers who made an appearance at the event. Harlem's own Dave East performed a couple of his records while DJ Va$htie provided sounds throughout the night while spinning on the ones and twos.

Over the next few weeks, Sprite and Staple will continue the search for up-and-coming designers and host a series of "re-workshops" Extra Butter. Scroll down to see more pictures from the event. For more info on where you get a bottle of Sprite Ginger, head over the Sprite.com. As for where you can cop an item from the collection, follow @Sprite on Twitter and Instagram for surprise giveaways. You can also visit head over to StaplePigeon.com for more Sprite swag!

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On Feb. 19, rising rapper Pop Smoke was killed inside a Los Angeles-based home. The Brooklyn native, born Bashar Jackson, was 20 years old. His passing ignited a wave of condolences from his peers in the music industry, friends, and family. According to Complex, the Jackson Family issued a statement on the passing, noting an investigation has yet to make strides in solving Pop Smoke's murder.

The family of Bashar 'Pop Smoke' Jackson would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone for your support. Every prayer, call, and act of kindness is deeply appreciated as we mourn the loss of our son, brother and friend.

Brooklyn knew him as Bashar. He was educated and nurtured in Brooklyn and his rise to fame all developed from the place he proudly represented. Within the last year, his extraordinary giftedness was revealed to the world, introducing Pop Smoke.

Unfortunately, there are no public details available regarding the murder of our loved one. We ask for respect and responsible reporting during this critical time. Inaccurate reports only add unnecessary pain to a grieving family.

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Nicki Minaj Donates $25,000 To Trinidad's St. Jude's Home For Girls

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"I want to thank you for your work with the girls. I want to thank you for giving them hope and inspiration, and they've even given me hope and inspiration being here today. And I want to donate $25,000 to help the girls." Minaj also revealed plans to build a recreational center.

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Rappers would kill for this attention chile. Lol at night when we go to bed I say “babe u was all over the blogs today”. He be like “oh word?” 😂🤣 he rlly don’t have social media to see y’all write think pieces about him chile. ‼️♥️♥️♥️ AND AH LIKE IT LIKE IT LIKE THISSSSSSS. JUS LIKE THIS ‼️‼️‼️‼️🥰

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Proud Trini 🇹🇹

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Trini to di 🦴

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🇹🇹🙏🏾 meet me on Tribe truck right now 😘🥰♥️

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