The wheels of justice are finally spinning on the once heartwarming story from November 2017 of a homeless man giving a stranded motorist his last $20 for gas money that turned out to be a lie. The story, which pulled at the heartstrings of Good Samaritans everywhere, has been proven to be a scam to swindle $400,000 in GoFundMe donations and now the woman who started the fraudulent grift is being sentenced.
Katelyn McClure agreed to a plea deal and pleaded guilty in New Jersey state Superior Court to second-degree theft by deception. The woman who concocted the story of a homeless veteran giving his last $20 to her is now going to prison. As part of the deal, she faces four years in state prison. She had originally faced up to 10 years in prison if she was convicted. Last month, she pleaded guilty to one federal count of wire fraud conspiracy.
McClure, a 29-year-old from Bordentown, New Jersey, must also help repay the $400,000 that was stolen from the 14,000 donors who made $402,706 in GoFundMe donations. As part of the agreement, she must also testify against her former boyfriend and co-defendant Mark D’Amico.
D’Amico faces state charges for his involvement in the GoFundMe scam, but has denied any wrongdoing. He doesn’t face any federal charges.
McClure and D’Amico allegedly used the stolen donation money to buy a BMW, designer bags and go on trips to Las Vegas casinos and Disney World. Last September, authorities raided the Florence, N.J., home shared by the couple.
Last week, the homeless man involved in the GoFundMe scheme titled “Paying It Forward” was sentenced. Johnny Bobbitt Jr., who served in the Marine Corps., was sentenced to five years’ probation for his role in the scheme. Under his plea agreement, he will also help repay the money, according to prosecutors. Bobbitt also pleaded guilty to a federal money laundering charge last month.
GoFundMe said it has refunded the donations.