GoFundMe says it has refunded more than $400,000 to people who donated money after hearing the fake story about a veteran who is homeless who gave his last $20 to a woman whose car had run out of gas.
Katelyn McClure and her then-boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, went viral in 2017 after they posted their story to social media and set up a GoFundMe fundraiser to reward Johnny Bobbitt Jr. for his generosity. The crowdfunding endeavor had set a goal of $10,000 but quickly exceeded expectations, earning more than $400,000 with 14,000 people donating.
But the New Jersey tale unraveled after McClure and D'Amico spent at least half of the money, and then started to fight with Bobbitt in court. Burlington County Prosecutor Scott A. Coffina then charged the trio in November with second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, saying the entire campaign "was predicated on a lie." If convicted, they face up to 10 years in jail.
According to earlier reports, the couple received $367,000 in total after fees from GoFundMe, and Bobbitt received $75,000.
In an interview with ABC News, McClure's attorney said she was "a bit naive" and that she'd been under the control of her now-ex-boyfriend. She now claims she was being used by D'Amico and Bobbit.
GoFundMe told BuzzFeed News all the money raised on the site was returned — even processing and administration fees. The site takes 2.9% of each donation and 30 cents per gift. GoFundMe said they refunded donors with their own money.
"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," said GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne. "Committing fraud, whether it takes place on or offline is against the law. We are fully cooperating and assisting law enforcement officials to recover every dollar withdrawn by Ms. McClure and Mr. D'Amico."