GoFundMe has returned over $400,000 to people who donated to a trio of scam artists who fabricated a story about a homeless good Samaritan.
"All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign have been fully refunded," GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne said in an email, adding that "while this type of behavior by an individual is extremely rare, it's unacceptable and clearly it has consequences."
The company is fully cooperating with investigators.
Kate McClure, 28, Mark D'Amico, 39, and drug-addicted homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt, 35, were charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception in November, after the three concocted a story that Bobbitt had given McClure his last $20 after her car ran out of fuel, leaving her stranded on the side of I-95 in a dangerous Philadelphia neighborhood.
The GoFundMe scam was uncovered after McClure and D'Amico refused to give Bobbitt over $300,000 of the $402,000 raised - causing Bobbit to lawyer up, alleging that the couple committed fraud and conspiracy by taking large amounts of the donations to "enjoy a lifestyle they could not afford" and using the account as "their personal piggy bank."
The net proceeds were $360,000 after fees, which went into an account controlled by McClure. Bobbitt received approximately $75,000 of it according to Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina.
"The entire campaign was predicated on a lie," said Coffina during a November press conference. "Less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live McClure, in a text exchange with a friend, stated that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was fake," he said.
In one of the texts read by Coffina, McClure allegedly wrote to a friend, "Ok, so wait, the gas part is completely made up but the guy isn't. I had to make something up to make people feel bad. So, shush about the made up stuff." -ABC
After the story went sideways - and reports emerged that the couple had pilfered most of the money meant for Bobbitt, police raided McClure and D'Amico's home looking for evidence in the case, and seizing a BMW they bought with charitable donations.
Coffina said that if Bobbitt hadn't sued, the three might have gotten away with the scam.
D'Amico and McClure turned themselves in last month according to WPVI, while Bobbit was arrested in Philadelphia on charges of being a fugitive from justice.
McClure, a receptionist for the New Jersey Department of Transportation, has turned on D'Amico - a carpenter, claiming that she "was used by Mr. D’Amico and Mr. Bobbitt, and she thought throughout that this money was going to a homeless veteran."
D'Amico's attorney says he is surprised by her defense.
"I don't know how Kate is playing the victim now. I will be curious to see how this defense plays out for her in court," he said.