WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A story of a chance meeting of a couple and a homeless veteran that started a GoFundMe campaign was uncovered as fictitious and a lie.
- The dishonest campaign that went viral raised over $400,000 from countless donors.
- GoFundMe, a company with zero tolerance for fraudulent affairs refunded all donations to 14,000 donors who initially found the story very ‘heartwarming’.
The winding ordeal is finally over for thousands of donors who donated so much to an allegedly deceitful GoFundMe campaign, featuring a homeless veteran.
Over $400,000 worth of contributions from 14,000 donors who donated to an ‘irresistibly heartwarming’ fundraiser, were returned by GoFundMe.
In an emailed statement, spokesperson for the company Bobby Whithorne wrote: “All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded. GoFundMe always fully protects donors, which is why we have a comprehensive refund policy in place.”
“We have a zero tolerance policy for fraudulent behavior,” added Whithorne.
The story that captured the hearts of people nationwide featured a chance but fictitious encounter between a homeless veteran and a couple from New Jersey. All three people involved ended up being slapped with second-degree felony charges.
The initial story said Katelyn McClure ran out of gas and was stranded on a Philadelphia highway. Katelyn claimed she met veteran Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a former Marine and paramedic, who used his last $20 to gas up her car. Mark later took a photo of the two that went viral.
The original GoFundMe set a goal of raising $10,000 which eventually reached $403,000. Both McClure and D’Amico even appeared on daytime TV shows including an appearance on Megyn Kelly Today.
Then suddenly, all came to a screeching halt.
In a news conference in November, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said, “The entire campaign was predicated on a lie.”
He continued saying McClure did not run out of gas and Bobbitt did not spend his last $20 to fill her tank. Instead, the three passed off a fake feel-good story to urge donors to donate to their cause, which really worked. “But it was fictitious and illegal, and so there are consequences, said Coffina.
While some of the money reached Bobbitt, most of it was spent by McClure and D’Amico on casino visits, and luxurious vacations and others. Because of this, Bobbitt filed a complaint against the pair this summer accusing them of mismanaging the funds that were intended for him. The suit launched a criminal investigation that led to the discovery that the first story was a lie.
Cases of misuse are rare on the platform and accounts for less than a 10th of a percent of all campaign, says GoFundMe. The company also said that they are currently cooperating with authorities.