A New Jersey man who raised $400,000 on GoFundMe with a fake story about a homeless man has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Mark D’Amico, who pleaded guilty to misappropriation of entrusted property in 2019, will be serving time in the New Jersey state prison concurrently with his previous 27-month federal sentence, county prosecutors said Friday.
D’Amico, 43, has been accused of fabricating a fake story about a homeless man he and his girlfriend are said to have met in 2017. The couple launched a GoFundMe campaign stating that homeless man Johnny Bobbitt used his last $20 to pay for her gas when she spilled near a Philadelphia freeway.
GoFundMe, which they founded, is said to be raising money for Bobbitt to get a car and an apartment. Instead, prosecutors said, the couple spent the money on gambling, luxury cars, designer handbags, vacations and a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.
More than 14,000 people donated over $402,000 to the invented cause.
“People really wanted to believe it was true,” Burlington County Prosecutor LaChia L. Bradshaw said in a statement. “But it was all a lie and it was illegal. Our office is excited to bring justice to the more than 14,000 kindhearted people who thought they were helping someone living in desperate need.”
D’Amico’s girlfriend Katelyn McClure pleaded guilty to theft by fraud in 2019 and is expected to serve a four-year sentence in state prison. (She claimed she participated in the scheme but was not the ringleader.) Bobbitt, who exposed the scheme by suing the couple in 2018 for allegedly withholding the funds, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal and kicked one state rehabilitation program instead of prison at time.
According to prosecutors, the trio did not meet at a gas station but at a casino in Pennsylvania. Prosecutors reviewed more than 60,000 messages between McClure and D’Amico that revealed their financial troubles and plans to use Bobbitt to raise funds. Bobbitt claimed in the lawsuit that he only received $75,000 of the resulting loot.
Back then, it was the biggest scam ever immortalized on GoFundMe. The platform reimbursed all donors and the scammers were later sentenced by a federal judge to full restitution to the company.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/man-who-raised-dollar400000-with-fake-gofundme-sentenced-to-five-years-in-prison?source=articles&via=rss Man who raised $400,000 with fake GoFundMe sentenced to five years in prison