A woman who scammed thousands of unsuspecting people out of approximately $400,000 received her prison sentence in federal court Thursday.
According to Fox News, 32-year-old Katelyn McClure of Bordentown, New Jersey, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison stemming from the scam she cooked up with her then-boyfriend Mark D’Amico in November 2017.
The scam began when McClure and D’Amico started a GoFundMe campaign titled “Paying It Forward.” The couple claimed McClure ran out of gas while traveling on Interstate 95, and they said a homeless veteran named Johnny Bobbitt spent his last $20 to buy her more fuel.
The couple said the GoFundMe was meant to raise money for Bobbitt to get him off the streets, and the goal for the campaign was initially set at $10,000.
While Bobbit is a real homeless veteran, the story about him buying gas for McClure was completely fabricated, Fox News reported.
Instead, the couple allegedly made up the story to steal money for themselves, and they received about $400,000 from over 14,000 donors in just three weeks.
The couple transferred most the money from GoFundMe into their own bank accounts and used it to buy “a BMW, jewelry, bags and a swanky New Year’s Eve trip to Las Vegas,” Fox News reported.
McClure and D’Amico told Bobbitt about the story they had concocted once the donations reached about $1,500. In December 2017, they deposited $25,000 into an account they created for Bobbitt, but they kept the rest for themselves.
Bobbitt eventually sued the couple for not giving him the proceeds, KABC-TV reported. Following that suit, investigators found out about the made-up gas story.
According to Fox News, Bobbitt eventually pleaded guilty to his involvement in the scheme. KABC reported he is set to be sentenced in federal court on August 23.
D’Amico was already sentenced to 27 months in prison in April 2022 after he pleaded guilty. Prosecutors believe he was the ringleader of the scam.
Meanwhile, McClure’s sentence of one year and one day is notably shorter because she worked with investigators and agreed to testify against D’Amico if he stood trial, KABC reported.
McClure’s attorney, James Gerrow, leaned into the idea that she was simply following her then-boyfriend. He said D’Amico was abusive and described him as a “master manipulator.”
“She tried to stop it. She tried to say, ‘No, we can’t do this,’” Gerrow said, according to KABC. “As the judge said, there were texts back and forth where he’s making promises. ‘He’s not going to do this anymore. This isn’t what’s happening.’ So there’s manipulation throughout.”
Even so, Judge Noel Hillman said he believed McClure knew D’Amico was a gambling addict and a criminal, but she still “implemented no controls … to allow that money to flow into his hands and onto the casino floor – and she benefited.”
Throughout the last few years, the case has gone viral and captivated many viewers. Hulu even released a documentary about the scheme entitled “No Good Deed, A Crowdfunding Holiday Heist.”
GoFundMe said it has refunded all of the donors in the case, KABC reported.
It was produced by the WPVI-TV investigative team out of Philadelphia, and it includes real interviews with all three participants.
Even after McClure’s sentence in federal court, the case is not yet finished for her. Both she and D’Amico will be sentenced on state charges on August 5.