US homeless fundraiser: GoFundMe campaign 'based on a lie'

BBC News | 11/16/2018 | Staff
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The US protagonists in a viral fundraising campaign for a homeless man have been charged with theft by deception and conspiracy.

Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico raised more than $400,000 (£313,000) for homeless ex-marine Johnny Bobbitt.

August - Mr - Bobbitt - Action - Couple

But in August, Mr Bobbitt launched legal action against the couple, claiming he did not get his fair share.

Now, prosecutors in New Jersey say Mr Bobbitt was complicit in the alleged plot. All three face the same charges.

Lawyer - Mr - D'Amico - Ms - McClure

A lawyer for Mr D'Amico, 39 and Ms McClure, 28, declined to comment, according to US media.

What did the prosecutors say?

Thursday - Press - Conference - Burlington - County

At Thursday's press conference, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said the story "that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was".

"The entire campaign was predicated on a lie," he added.

Prosecutors - Campaign - Month

The prosecutors believe the campaign was concocted a month before it was launched.

The campaign text had said that Mr Bobbitt had used "his last $20" to help Ms McClure when her car broke down in 2017.

Mr - Bobbitt - Custody - Couple - Court

Mr Bobbitt remains in custody, and the couple were released pending a court date on 24 December.

The three face potential sentences of five to 10 years for the second-degree crimes.

Campaign

What was the original campaign?

Mr Bobbitt and the couple first came to prominence in November 2017 when Ms McClure launched a crowdfunding GoFundMe campaign, which, they said, was to re-pay the debt of a homeless man who came to her aid at the side of a road.

Photograph - Ms - McClure - Mr - Bobbitt

A photograph of Ms McClure and Mr Bobbitt, a veteran and drug addict who had lived on the streets for several years, standing on the side of the road, fronted the fundraising campaign.

More than 14,000 people donated, many inspired by the story's details, such as Mr Bobbitt instructing Ms McClure to lock her car doors before he returned with a can of petrol.

Officials

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