GoFundMe has officially refunded over $400,000 to people that participated in a viral money-raising campaign that turned out to be an elaborate scam.
The campaign, which was labeled a “pay it forward campaign” was created by New Jersey couple Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, who claimed that after breaking down on a stranded highway, a homeless veteran gifted them his last $20.
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Following the seemingly spontaneous incident, the couple launched a GoFundMe page explaining the situation and urging people to donate to help the homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt.
The story went viral, with news outlets around the country sharing the sweet and heartwarming tale of an innocent couple trying to help a needy veteran. The campaign exploded, raising over $400,000.
Then, in August, things started to go downhill very quickly. It was discovered that the couple had not been giving the money to the ex-Marine, but instead had purchased a new car and had gone on vacation together. Johnny Bobbitt then brought the case to court where it hit the headlines once again.
In September, Bobbitt won his case, and GoFundMe was ordered to pay Bobbitt the $400,000.
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Fast forward to November, and the entire operation was exposed. It was brought to light that the couple had actually approached Bobbitt before the encounter, telling him of their plans to start a fraudulent GoFundMe page that would help both parties. The whole thing was an elaborate and extremely lucrative hoax.
As Faithwire News previously reported: “All three adults — McClure, D’Amico and Bobbitt — are facing charges of conspiracy and theft by deception, according to WCAU-TV. McClure and D’Amico turned themselves into Burlington County prosecutors Wednesday. Bobbitt, for his part, remains at large.”
According to GoFundMe’s policies, they had to then return the funds to the people that had donated.
A spokesman for crowdfunding company, Bobby Whithorne, said that “all donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded.”
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior,” Whithorne added. “If fraud occurs, donors get refunded, and we work with law enforcement officials to recover the money.”
According to The Blaze, “Authorities have charged McClure, D’Amico, and Bobbitt with second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by conception.”
(H/T: The Blaze)