This is going to make a great Coen Brothers movie one day.
Things were feeling glum in America in December 2017, so glum that I think people were just looking for an excuse to feel better about humanity. They found it in the story of a homeless, recovering drug addict named Johnny S. Bobbitt Jr. Bobbitt, who panhandles for food, was sleeping under the I-95 bridge one night in Philadelphia when a motorist, 27-year-old Kate McClure, ran out of gas. Bobbitt, despite his dire straits, gave McClure his last $20 so that she could fill up and return home.
America was so overcome by this story of a good Samaritan, even while down on his luck, that his story went viral. McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, set up a GoFundMe account to repay Bobbitt for his generosity. That GoFundMe account received donations from a whopping 14,000 people totaling $400,000. Within three weeks, this formerly homeless man had a home in South Jersey, a cell phone, a computer, and even a used pick-up truck. D’Amico and McClure, meanwhile, appeared on The Ellen Degeneres Show.
Great story, right?
Well, a few months later, more headlines began to surface. Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, who set up the GoFundMe Account, were withholding money from Bobbitt. They gave him half, but kept the other $200,000 for himself, and that’s when things got nasty. Bobbitt threatened to take the couple to court, claiming that vacations they took and a BMW they bought were purchased with proceeds from the GoFundMe Account. D’Amico denied the charges and claimed that Bobbitt was blowing all of his money on drugs. D’Amico claimed that the other half of the money was in a savings account that he would give to Bobbitt as soon as he proved that he had a job and was drug-free.
Alas, it appears as though everyone in this story overplayed their hands. It was all a scam. The three people knew each other at least a month before they fabricated their story and ripped off 14,000 folks who were desperate to think the best in others.
From the Associated Press:
Burlington County prosecutors outlined the allegations against Mark D’Amico, Katelyn McClure and Johnny Bobbitt on Thursday. All three are charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
The couple has claimed they set up a GoFundMe page for Bobbitt after he helped McClure get gas when she became stranded in Philadelphia last year. But prosecutors say they found evidence all three knew each other for at least a month before and set up the scheme.
D’Amico and McClure surrendered Wednesday night. Their attorney said they have no comment. Bobbitt is jailed in Philadelphia.
Of course, if Johnny Bobbitt had gone along with what I suspect was the plan — split the $200,000 — instead of demanding the other half, they could have gotten away with it all, and no one would be the wiser. But then again, I guess that will teach all of us for blindly believing in the best of people. Goddamnit.
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