The woman at the center of a viral GoFundMe campaign that authorities have described as “predicated on a lie” is attempting to deny responsibility for her actions, according to an interview with her attorney Friday.
Kate McClure, whose “Pay It Forward” crowdfunding campaign purported to help a homeless veteran who had used his last $20 to get her gas when she was stranded, is not to blame, her lawyer says.
To hear Kate McClure’s attorney tell it, she did not know that her ex-boyfriend Mark D’Amico and homeless veteran, Johnny Bobbitt had known each other for some time.
“All along Kate had no idea that there had been a conspiracy really between D’Amico and Bobbitt to get money through GoFundMe,” said Gerrow.
She now claims D’Amico had concocted the whole story that Bobbitt had helped her with his last $20 after she ran out of gas and even though it wasn’t true.
She went along with it for one reason, “In reality, Kate thought she was helping a homeless veteran,” said Gerrow.
Gerrow further describes Kate as “a wonderful person” who is a “bit naïve.”
According to investigators, a lot of the story can be learned through messages exchanged between McClure and D’Amico. 60,000 of them, in fact.
According to these messages, the couple met Bobbit at SugarHouse Casino in Fishtown and wanted to help him. As of yet, it’s unclear who came up with what story. The Inquirer points out, Bobbitt’s Facebook page claims that he helped a woman who had run out of gas and gotten a flat tire back in 2012.
“Everybody blows the horn but of course no-one helps her,” the post explains. “So I run to the gas station and then change her tire. I spent the only cash I had for supper but at least she can get her little children home safe.”McClure exchanged texts with a friend the same day the GoFundMe began. In messages also uncovered by investigators, she wrote, “I had to make something up to make people feel bad.”
The GoFundMe went totally viral and money poured in. Before long, however, Bobbit was back on the streets panhandling. An outreach worker helped him get legal representation, who took his case pro bono.
Prior to this, he’d been living in a motorhome ($18,000, which was purchased with GoFundMe funds) on the couple’s property. Why had he left? Allegedly, the couple sold his trailer and kicked him off of their land.
How much had GoFundMe given McClure? $367,108 was deposited between McClure’s bank account and prepaid debit cards. Now, the money from more than 14,000 donors is gone. It went, seemingly, to fund trips to Las Vegas, Disneyland, Disney World, designer handbags, a BMW, and casinos. The couple even appeared on Good Morning America under the guise of what good samaritans they were.
Now, life looks pretty different. McClure and D’Amico have both been processed and released, according to McClure’s lawyer. They face charges including theft and conspiracy. The couple is no longer together, also according to her attorney.
Bobbitt was arrested Wednesday, where he faced additional drug charges and is being held at a correctional facility in Philadelphia until he’s extradited back to New Jersey.
No matter who came up with what, this scam is truly disheartening.