One of the year’s most bizarre stories just got even more so. You may recall the lawsuit of a homeless man against a New Jersey couple who raised $400,000 off a heart-warming story of how Johnny Bobbitt supposedly gave Kate McClure his last $20 when she was stranded on a road in Philadelphia. Kate McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico then went public with the GoFundMe effort — only to be accused by Bobbitt of using the money for themselves. Police now say it was all a cynical hoax on the public. If so, this could prove a case of “when thieves fall out, honest men come by their own.” Donors will be given back their money.
Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina said that the entire effort was a lie — completely “fictitious and illegal and there are consequences.” Had the three not squabbled over the money, the alleged hoax would never have been detected in all likelihood. It always astonishes me to see criminal enterprises that depend on the honesty of dishonest people.
When the story broke in November 2017, it was covered nationally and money poured in. If this was a hoax, it is truly breathtaking to think of the level of mendacity required. The prosecutor explained:
“Kate McClure did not run out of gas on an I-95 off-ramp, and Johnny Bobbitt didn’t spend his last $20 to help her. Rather, D’Amico, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to invent and/or promulgate this story in order to deceive potential donors to the ‘Paying it Forward’ campaign by toying with their emotions to encourage them to contribute to a homeless veteran who purportedly had done a good deed.”
They are all now charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.