Johnny Bobbitt, the homeless veteran who was involved in a $400k GoFundMe scam, has been arrested after he failed to show up for a scheduled court appearance. Philadelphia police arrested the 35-year-old after he skipped court on Tuesday in Burlington County, New Jersey.
“Johnny Bobbitt was apprehended today in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Police Department at approximately 10:45 a.m,” the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office announced in a tweet earlier this week. “The BCPO will now begin extradition proceedings to have him returned to New Jersey.”
UPDATE on GoFundMe case: Johnny Bobbitt was apprehended today in Philadelphia by the Philadelphia Police Department at approximately 10:45 a.m. The BCPO will now begin extradition proceedings to have him returned to New Jersey.
— Burlco Prosecutor (@BurlcoPros) January 9, 2019
Bobbitt is facing a series of charges after he and two others allegedly plotted a fictitious “pay it forward” fundraising campaign in order to extract donations from well-meaning people.
What is the full background?
The whole saga began in October 2017, when veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr. supposedly helped out stranded motorist Kate McClure, gifting her his last $20 for gas to get home. In order to repay his act of generosity, McClure and her partner Mark D’Amico set up a bogus GoFundMe page, which subsequently went viral, generating over $400,000 – some 14,347 people donated over a period of 10 months. But then, the couple allegedly changed their mind and decided to keep most of the money for themselves, spending it on lavish items and vacations.
However, in November last year, it became apparent that Bobbitt himself was involved in the scam, and that the entire thing was an elaborate fraud.
According to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina, shortly after the fundraiser was launched, McClure texted a friend, noting that “the gas part” of the story was “completely made up.”
“But the guy isn’t,” she added, as reported by People magazine. “I had to make something up to make people feel bad.”
Now, all three adults — McClure, D’Amico and Bobbitt — are facing charges of conspiracy and theft by deception.
Will donators get their money back?
In short, yes. In fact, last month GoFundMe announced that it had already returned the $400,000 to thousands of people who had generously donated to the campaign. Bobby Whithorne, a spokesman for crowdfunding company, noted 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.”