Johnny Bobbitt story was one of the most-read stories of 2017. A heartwarming tale of compassion, empathy and charity. Your aunt probably shared it on Facebook.
It started when Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless veteran, selflessly helped Kate McClure who had become stranded after running out of gas on the I-95 just outside of Philadelphia. Bobbitt saw a distressed McClure and insisted she stay with her vehicle while he proceeded to the nearest gas station and spent his last $20 refueling her car. Unable to instantly pay him back, she made a point of finding and gifting him with some cold weather gear and a few bucks.
This gesture did not feel adequate enough for McClure, and together with her boyfriend Mark D’Amico, they created a GoFundMe campaign to raise $10,000 for Bobbitt to get back on his feet and under a roof. They named their campaign Paying It Forward and it received huge attention worldwide.
Exceeding Expectations and Exploitation
Fortunately, fourteen thousand people, ultimately donating a staggering total of $402,000, met their appeal. Unfortunately, the entire story appears to have been fabricated and the entire sum has been spent, the majority by McClure and her boyfriend D’Amico, in casinos and on holidays. After GoFundMe took their share, $367,000 was deposited into an account controlled by McClure. It is claimed that only $75,000 of this was given to Bobbitt, and every remaining cent spent in casinos, on jewelry and other luxury items including cars and handbags.
Burlington County Prosecutors Office began an investigation after homeless Bobbitt attempted to sue McClure and D’Amico, claiming he had not received a fair share of the donations. Upon investigation, the heartwarming tale began to unravel thanks to a series of texts shared by McClure, confirming the whole ploy as a scam. “The gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn’t. I had to make something up to make people feel bad so shush about the made up stuff”, McClure allegedly wrote to a friend, in one of the sixty thousand text messages that were reviewed.
Although the scheme hasn’t been credited specifically to McClure, D’Amico or Bobbitt yet, the ongoing investigation revealed Bobbitt posted a strikingly similar story on Facebook back in 2012, claiming he had helped a woman stranded on the road after she ran out of gas and blew a tyre.
McClure and D’amico voluntarily surrendered themselves to the police and have since been released on bail pending a court date on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve. Ho-Ho-Helpless Bobbitt was arrested in Philadelphia and faces extradition across state lines to be charged. Meanwhile, GoFundMe has announced that it will refund all donators to the Paying it Forward campaign.
meanwhile, Scott Caffina, lead prosecutor, announced that the trio shall face charges for second degree crimes, which will see jail terms of 5-10 years if found guilty. “D’Amico, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to pass off a fake, feel good story that would compel donors to contribute to their cause and it worked in a very big way but it was fictitious and illegal and there are consequences,” he said during a press conference on Thursday. The investigation continues.