US couple, homeless man charged in GoFundMe scam

In this Nov. 17, 2017, file photo, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., left, Kate McClure, right, and McClure's boyfriend Mark D'Amico pose at a Citgo station in Philadelphia. (AP)
Updated 16 November 2018
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US couple, homeless man charged in GoFundMe scam

  • The GoFundMe page announced a goal of $10,000 to help Bobbitt rent an apartment, buy a used car and get back on his feet

NEW YORK: Last year, the seemingly heartwarming tale of a homeless good Samaritan who helped a woman driver in need sparked a crowdfunding campaign that raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for him.
Now, the story has ended up in court — and appears to have been a scam.
Three people were charged in a New Jersey courtroom on Thursday in connection with the allegedly fraudulent scheme, which allowed them to rake in more than $400,000 on the GoFundMe site.
In November 2017, Katelyn McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico launched the crowdfunding page asking donors to “pay it forward” to a homeless military veteran, Johnny Bobbitt Jr.
The couple said Bobbitt had given McClure his last $20 to buy gas for her car when he found her stuck along a highway outside Philadelphia, and they wanted to return the act of kindness.
The GoFundMe page announced a goal of $10,000 to help Bobbitt rent an apartment, buy a used car and get back on his feet. But it quickly made that amount many times over.
The story made headlines and thousands donated to what seemed to be a good cause.
But the first twist came in August when Bobbitt sued McClure and D’Amico, saying he had only received a fraction of the money — about $75,000 — and accusing the couple of pulling one over on donors.
Bobbitt claimed the couple had gone on fancy vacations and bought themselves a new BMW, which was seized at the couple’s home in September.
Ultimately, the investigation revealed a second twist: Bobbitt was in cahoots with the couple all along.
“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina told a press conference Thursday.
“Less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live, McClure, in a text exchange with a friend, stated that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was ‘completely made up’,” he said.
“She did not run out of gas on an I-95 off-ramp, and he did not spend his last $20 to help her,” the prosecutor added.
“D’Amico, McClure and Bobbitt conspired to fabricate and promote a feel-good story that would compel donors to contribute to their cause.”
The three were charged with “theft by deception” and conspiracy to commit such a theft. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said they would be seeking jail sentences “of some length.”
GoFundMe plans to reimburse the 14,000 donors, who contributed $403,000, the prosecutor said.


Weinstein reaches deal to settle civil proceedings for $44 million: report

Updated 24 May 2019
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Weinstein reaches deal to settle civil proceedings for $44 million: report

  • The deal, which has not yet been signed, aims to cover all civil proceedings filed against the fallen Hollywood mogul
  • The settlement does not exempt Weinstein from the criminal proceedings brought against him for sexual assault

NEW YORK: Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has reached a provisional $44 million settlement with alleged victims and creditors, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The deal, which has not yet been signed, aims to cover all civil proceedings filed against the fallen Hollywood mogul, including those in Canada and the United Kingdom.
Weinstein’s spokesperson denied to comment.
The settlement does not exempt Weinstein from the criminal proceedings brought against him for sexual assault, for which he will go on trial in September.
Weinstein — a catalyst for the #MeToo anti-harassment movement — has been charged over the alleged assaults of two women and faces life in prison if he is convicted at the trial, which could last five weeks.
In addition to the alleged victims and creditors, the settlement covers the proceedings started by former New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who has been succeeded by Letitia James.
The proceedings aim specifically to guarantee the alleged victims will be compensated.
James’s spokesperson also declined to comment.
The settlement amount will be paid out by insurance agencies, the Journal reported, several of which count The Weinstein Company, the production company Weinstein co-founded, among their clients.
Since October 2017, Weinstein — one of the most powerful men in Hollywood before a cascade of sexual misconduct allegations precipitated his downfall — has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than 80 women.
Among his accusers are prominent actresses such as Ashley Judd, Angelina Jolie and Salma Hayek.