PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – It was one of the ‘feel good’ stories of the year, but now prosecutors say it was all a lie.
The story went viral after Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico started the GoFundMe campaign for Johnny Bobbitt, Jr. McClure claimed she ran out of gas and became stranded last October – and Bobbitt helped her out with his last $20.
“I pulled over as far as I could and got out of the car to head to the nearest gas station. That’s when I met Johnny,” McClure wrote on the GoFundMe raising money for the man. “He told me to get back in the car and lock the doors. A few minutes later, he comes back with a red gas can (and) his last 20 dollars to make sure I could get home safe.”
The page was titled ‘Paying it Forward,’ and the response was incredible: 14,347 people donated $402,706 over the course of 10 months.
However, the story took a turn when a fight started over the money. Bobbitt sued the couple for fraud, saying he had only seen about $75,000 of the money and should have gotten about $300,000 more after GoFundMe’s fees.
Bobbitt believed the couple was using the money for themselves, spending it on a BMW and luxury vacations. The couple claimed they withheld the money because they were worried Bobbitt would spend it on drugs.
Police executed a search warrant of their home in September, but the couple was not charged with anything at the time.
Now, it seems like the story has taken another turn.
A complaint obtained by NBC Philadelphia alleges that the couple teamed up with Bobbitt to concoct a “fictitious story” so they could raise money by deceiving generous donors.
Now, officials say they may all face conspiracy and theft charges.