GoFundMe scam: Woman says she was duped and releases audio

ByBill King WABC logo
Monday, November 19, 2018
GoFundMe scam: Woman says she was duped, releases audio
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ABC's Maggie Rulli has more on the new twist in the GoFundMe scam.

MOUNT HOLLY, New Jersey -- An attorney for a New Jersey woman charged with scamming GoFundMe donors with a story about a homeless veteran says she was duped by her former boyfriend, and he released an audio tape of the couple he claims she secretly recorded.

James Gerrow appeared on "Good Morning America" Monday morning, claiming that Mark D'Amico was "calling the shots" and that Kate McClure believed she was helping Marine vet Johnny Bobbitt.

"I really don't think (she was complicit)," Gerrow said. "People have to understand that this was an abusive relationship...She didn't understand or appreciate the fact that this may very well be a crime. What she was taking about and what she thought all along, was the fact she was trying to help this homeless man."

In the audio recording given exclusively to ABC News, Gerrow said McClure confronted D'Amico after Bobbitt accused them of stealing his money. ABC News has not independently verified its authenticity.

McClure: "You started the whole (expletive) thing. You did everything. I had no part in any of this, and I'm the one (expletive) taking the fall."

D'Amico: "You don't go to jail for lying on TV, you dumb (expletive)."

McClure: "You heard what he said. If this turns into a criminal thing."

D'Amico: "You don't go to jail for lying on TV."

McClure: "But who made me lie on TV?"

D'Amico: "Who cares?"

All three are charged with conspiracy and theft by deception, with authorities alleging they conspired with Bobbitt to concoct a feel-good story about Bobbitt giving McClure his last $20 when her car ran out of gas on I-95 in Philadelphia.

Mark D'Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt

They raised $400,000, which prosecutors say was spent on luxury items and casino trips. The couple seemingly discussed the expenses on the audio recording released by Gerrow.

D'Amico: "How much did you spend in Cali? $2,500? (Unintelligible) $3,700. So just right there is $40,000. Now you wanna talk about everything else? You act like you didn't spend a dollar. Stop it."

McClure: "I'm not acting like that."

D'Amico: "Stop it. Just stop it. Just stop it."

McClure: "I'm not acting like that. I never said that I didn't spend a dollar."

Full audio released to ABC News (WARNING: Graphic content):

GoFundMe has agreed to refund money to the 14,000 people who donated. Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said the trio likely would've gotten away with the alleged crime had Bobbitt not filed a lawsuit.

"She does (feel remorse)," Gerrow said. "One of the things that she does feel remorse about is the fact that this has garnered such publicity and that it caused people, perhaps, to have second thoughts about giving, especially during this time of year. There's no question that a site like GoFundMe has helped people along the way. I know that she's concerned about what this has done to her family, and this, quite frankly, has traumatized her."

Gerrow's full interview with ABC News:

D'Amico and McClure started the GoFundMe account for Bobbitt late last year, claiming they wanted to "pay it forward." They launched the campaign with the goal of raising $10,000 to help Bobbitt get back on his feet, but it quickly went viral and hundreds of thousands of dollars poured in.

However, Coffina said investigators learned McClure texted a friend less than an hour after the campaign went live, saying the story was "completely made up." She did not run out of gas, Coffina said, and Bobbitt did not spend $20 to help her.

Instead, the couple met Bobbitt at a local casino, befriended him and came up with the scam, Coffina said. He added that the trio staged the photo at the gas station that accompanied the GoFundMe pitch.

The account, at first, led to appearances for Bobbitt and McClure on national TV programs, but it soon turned into a dispute over the money as Bobbitt publicly accused the couple of dipping into the funds, and a court battle ensued.

The Bordentown couple denied the allegations, claiming they were wary of giving Bobbitt large sums because they feared he would buy drugs. Bobbitt sued the couple over alleged mismanagement of the funds, claiming they had complete control over his money and had used thousands of it to go on lavish trips, shopping sprees and gambling.

The total amount available would have been just over $360,000 after GoFundMe fees. Bobbitt said he received approximately $75,000 in cash, goods and services, and he claimed the couple spent the rest.

The couple claimed through their attorney they gave Bobbitt $200,000, and D'Amico had said Bobbitt spent $25,000 in less than two weeks last year on drugs, as well as paying for overdue legal bills and sending money to family. Bobbitt's attorney had said Bobbitt was entering a residential program for drug treatment.

The couple also bought Bobbitt a camper with some of the cash and parked it on land McClure's family owns in New Jersey. But Bobbitt became homeless again after D'Amico told him in June he had to leave.

Sister station Action News in Philadelphia began following McClure and D'Amico's spending habits online beginning late last year, after receiving an anonymous tip they were allegedly spending the GoFundMe money. In just a few months, McClure posted pictures and videos of a New Year's Eve Bash in Las Vegas, helicopter rides, trips to New York with front row tickets to a Broadway show and shopping excursions.

Coffina said McClure and D'Amico squandered most of the $367,000 contributed and "hit the casinos hard." They also bought a BMW and high-end handbags, according to court records, though Gerrow insisted some of the purchases were misrepresented by prosecutors.

McClure is an administrative assistant with the state of New Jersey who makes $43,000 per year. D'Amico is a carpenter.

Coffina praised Bobbitt's military service in the United States Marine Corps but also said he was "fully complicit" in the scheme.

The prosecutor said the trio "hoodwinked a lot of people," but he encouraged the public to continue to give to those in need.


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