It started out in November of 2017 as a feel-good story about Johnny Bobbitt, a homeless veteran, who, according to the story reported throughout the media, gave his last twenty dollars to Katelyn McClure a stranded motorist who had run out of gas at the side of a road in Philadelphia, The story continued with McClure and her then boyfriend, Mark D’Amico starting a GoFundMe account for Bobbitt that raised $400,000 of donations from more than 14,000 people touched by the story.
But then the story began to unravel. First, Bobbitt sued McClure and D’Amico alleging that they shared little of the money raised with him, but instead used the money to fund a lavish lifestyle. Eventually all three had criminal charges of conspiracy and theft by deception brought against them by prosecutors alleging that the entire story was a sham and that the three concocted the story in order to scam people into making donations. According to prosecutors, the three had met at a casino and came up with the scam. The story about being stranded by the roadside was totally fabricated. It should be noted, however, that the one truth in this entire story is that Johnny Bobbitt was a homeless veteran.
In 2019 Bobbitt pleaded guilty and received a sentence of five years probation. D’Amico also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 27 months in prison. A few days ago McClure pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in prison.
One of the good aspects of GoFundMe is its guarantee that if scams like this are discovered, GoFundMe will refund all donations made to the scammers. Here is a link to GoFundMe’s guarantee. https://support.gofundme.com/hc/en-us/articles/203604704-The-GoFundMe-Guarantee
In addition, GoFundMe also provides tips for people trying to distinguish scams from legitimate requests for donation, which describe things you should consider before making a donation such as whether or not the intended beneficiary of the donations is in control of the withdrawals and if not, if there is a clear path for the funds to reach him or her. For a full list of the things you should consider before making a GoFundMe donation, click on this link. https://support.gofundme.com/hc/en-us/articles/115015913668-How-to-Determine-if-a-GoFundMe-is-Safe-to-Donate-To
GoFundMe does a good job of trying to keep its site free of scams, but of course, they will never be perfect. Fortunately, due to their guarantee policy, no one making a donation should feel there is a danger of losing their money to a discovered scam.
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