The infamous “Pay It Forward” campaign on GoFundMe that stemmed from a fabricated story of a homeless veteran’s good deed has resulted in GoFundMe offering to reimburse all 14,447 people who donated money out of good faith.
The account was set up by Kate McClure, Mark D’Amico, and Marine veteran Johnny Bobbitt, after the trio cooked up a hoax story about Bobbitt -a homeless veteran- giving his last $20 bill to help McClure in a time of need.
The crowdfunding campaign raised more than $400,000- significantly more than the $10,000 originally requested.
After the entire tale of goodwill had been exposed as a scam, all three were charged with Theft by Deception (second-degree,) and Conspiracy to Commit Theft by Deception (second-degree).
“This type of case can damage the psyche of the public,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said on Thursday. “A case like this can make generous people skeptical and a little more hesitant to help someone in need. I urge you to not let that happen. There is a lot of hardship in the world and it is commendable to show generosity to those in need.”
According to 6ABC, GoFundMe released a statement apologizing for those who were effectively used in the scam, and vowed to make things right.
“All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign will receive a full refund,” the company wrote. “GoFundMe always fully protects donors, which is why we have a comprehensive refund policy in place. GoFundMe will process all refunds in the coming days.
While this type of behavior by an individual is extremely rare, it’s unacceptable and clearly it has consequences. Committing fraud, whether it takes place on or offline is against the law. We are fully cooperating and assisting law enforcement officials to recover every dollar withdrawn by Ms. McClure and Mr. D’Amico.”
The investigation into the matter continues.
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