A New Jersey woman has been sentenced to prison after a federal court found her guilty of cooking up a scam that took more than US$400,000 from GoFundMe donors.
Her crime dates back to 2017, when she began to raise money for a homeless veteran she claimed had given her his last $20 for gas after she was left stranded on the side of a Philadelphia interstate.
McClure, along with her then-boyfriend Mark D’Amico, began raising money for the man, named Johnny Bobbitt Jr., posting on social media a photo of McClure posing alongside the man the night her car supposedly ran out of gas.
However, state and federal prosecutors told the court that the group had met near a Philadelphia casino in 2017, shortly before their story and fundraiser began to go viral. Bobbitt later sued the couple, saying that while they bought him a camper they didn’t give him his fair share of the money, which prompted an investigation by police.
CNN reports that investigators found a text McClure sent to a friend that read, “Okay so wait the gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn’t. I had to make something up to make people feel bad.”
According to a federal criminal complaint, all of the money raised in the GoFundMe was spent by March of the following year, with McClure and D’Amico spending large amounts of it on a BMW, luxury handbags and clothing, casino trips to other states, and a recreational vehicle.
WATCH: Original story about GoFundMe campaign before scandal
McClure, 32, was handed a lighter sentence than D’Amico, who was sentenced to 27 months in prison in April, after he was found to be the ringleader of the scam and pleaded guilty in federal court, reports the Philly Voice.
He was also ordered to make restitution to GoFundMe and the individual donors.
McClure was also ordered to make restitution and serve three years’ supervised release, reports local outlet WHYY.
CBS News reports that Bobbitt previously pleaded guilty to state and federal charges, and was sentenced to five years’ probation, including drug treatment, on the state charges in 2019.
The fundraiser was initially meant to raise $10,000, but quickly climbed to $400,000 when the story made national headlines. More than 14,000 sympathetic donors were misled.
All three could be subject to additional jail time or probation in the coming months. WHYY reports that McClure and D’Amico will both face sentencing on state charges later this year, while Bobbitt will face sentencing on federal charges.