People couldn’t believe it when they read the story about Johnny Bobbitt Jr., a kind homeless man who helped a woman in distress on the side of a New Jersey Road. But the narrative that had restored everyone’s faith in humanity turned out to be a sinister plot that left everyone shaking their heads in disbelief. Apparently, some people are willing to do anything to get their 15 minutes of fame…and some extra money in the bank.
She Assumed She Had Enough Gas to Get Home
One night in November 2017, Kate McClure got in her car after a fun night with friends and drove through New Jersey’s Interstate 95. But all of a sudden, she noticed that the gas indicator on her dashboard started flashing. She was running low on gas, but she assumed she had enough to get home.
She was so wrong.
She Went Looking for Gas on the Wrong Part of Town
McClure had no other choice but to pull over on the dark highway, get out of her car and walk to the nearest gas station. But she was on the wrong part of town and she had no idea how far she would have to walk until she found a gas station. To make things worse, she felt a chill down her spine.
She couldn’t really pinpoint it, but she felt really uneasy. A few moments later, she realized someone was following her.
A Mystery Man Confronted Her From the Shadows
As she continued walking, a man appeared from the shadows. He was clearly homeless and was moving sluggishly, almost like a zombie. He was also mumbling incoherently.
She figured that she would give him some spare change and then send him on his way, but unfortunately, she didn’t have a dime on her. Would he understand and leave her alone?
He Caught Up to Her Before She Could Hide in Her Car
McClure returned to her car and considered getting inside and locking the doors until he went away, but the hooded man caught up to her right away. But when he spoke, her fears faded away. He gently asked her what was wrong and when she looked into his eyes, she saw a gentle soul.
She confided in him and told him what had happened. Then the homeless man surprised her once again.
The Homeless Man Warned Her That He’d Be Back
The homeless man told her to get back in her car and lock the doors until he returned. Then he walked off into the shadows leaving McClure with an overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be okay. Then minutes later, he returned with something in his hand that made her eyes get really big.
He Spent His Last $20 To Buy Her Gas
It turns out that she had nothing to fear. The homeless man had walked to a gas station and spent his last $20 on a can of gas. McClure was extremely touched by his selfless act.
She thanked him, but unfortunately, she didn’t have any physical cash on her to pay him back. But he didn’t seem to mind one bit. He simply said goodbye and walked away. Despite the beautiful gesture, she felt very guilty.
She Went Looking For the Homeless Man With Her Boyfriend
McClure was having a tough time getting the homeless man out of her head. So, once she got home, she told her boyfriend Mark D’Amico about what the man did. He was grateful to him for helping the woman he loved get out of a jam.
So, they decided to drive back to the highway, but it took a couple of trips to find him. And what happened next would end up making headline news.
They Paid the Homeless Man Regular Visits
Once they found him, they repaid him for his generosity, but it didn’t end there. The couple continued looking for him regularly and every time they encountered him, they gave him gift cards and cash. The man, whose name was Johnny Bobbitt Jr., had become their friend.
And over a series of conversations, they learned that he was not what he appeared to be.
Bobbitt Was a Veteran Before He Was Homeless
Bobbitt was originally from a tiny town in North Carolina. After 9/11, he joined the Marine Corps to fight the war against terrorism, but he didn’t serve overseas. He worked as a paramedic and ammunition technician on the home front.
Unfortunately, he was only in the military for 14 months, after which he was cut loose and his life started spiraling towards a dark path.
Adjusting to Civilian Life Was Very Hard
Bobbitt struggled to adjust to civilian life after being discharged from the military. He couldn’t hold a job to save his own life, which forced him to look for other job opportunities in different states. But he wasn’t very successful in his search, which led him on a path towards depression and controlled substances.
Despite this, he set his sights on Philadelphia where he hoped to land a secure job, but the job he was promised didn’t work out.
His Addiction Forced Him to Eat Through His Savings
The job didn’t work out and Bobbitt started spending all of his savings to continue buying controlled substances. This eventually left him homeless and then things got worse when he lost all forms of identification. By the time he met McClure, he had been homeless for a year and a half, but he never gave up on his dream for a better life.
This touched McClure and D’Amico so much that they decided to give him a hand.
They Set Up A Go Fund Me Page
McClure and D’Amico launched a GoFundMe campaign for Bobbitt in order to raise enough money to get him back on his feet. They posted his story and set a fund-raising goal of $10,000. They were hoping that the money would allow him to rent a place for a few months, get replacements for his lost identification cards and get a job.
They figured his story would touch a couple of hearts worldwide and it did.
His Story Went Viral
To gain traction, the couple shared Bobbitt’s story and linked the GoFundMe page so that it would go viral and they could raise the money needed. Then the money started pouring in. Within a single week, they raised $5,000.
It wasn’t long before they hit their $10,000 mark either. The couple was beyond happy, but they didn’t realize people would continue donating.
They Became Custodians of Thousands of Dollars
The couple had only expected people to donate $10,000, but they kept donating and soon they found themselves the custodians of thousands of dollars. It wasn’t long before news media outlets like CNN, Time, and The Telegraph caught wind of the situation and started covering the story that had attracted so much online attention. The touching narrative had turned the couple into heroes.
Bobbitt Became a New Man
In only a week Bobbitt cleaned up and became a new man as he transitioned from rags to riches. He also bought a camper trailer that the couple let him park in their family’s property in Florence, New Jersey. He also got all of his identifications back, bought a used truck and started looking into landing a job at a warehouse.
But he also dreamt of becoming a licensed paramedic so he could help others someday. But some people were starting to smell something fishy about the whole story.
He Needed the Couple’s Permission to Use the Money
The GoFundMe page managed to raise over $400,000. This meant that Bobbitt never had to worry about money problems again if he managed his finances carefully. But it turns out that he couldn’t access his money whenever he wanted.
Whenever the former homeless man wanted cash, he had to get permission from the couple. This concerned people. Were they trying to take advantage of Bobbitt?
They Had to Be Sure He Was Financially Responsible
Initially, the couple handled Bobbitt’s money like a bank because he didn’t have a bank account. But once he got one, they had to make sure that he wasn’t going to blow all his money on controlled substances. Once they were sure, they planned to hand over all the money.
But the friendship between the three eventually showed cracks behind the scenes.
The Couple Refused to Let Him Move On
The image McClure and D’Amico posted on social media suggested that they were one big happy family. They threw costume parties and even had Bobbitt over for Christmas. But there was tension brewing because he wanted to go live with his brother and land a job in Montana.
However, the couple wouldn’t release the funds. So, he had no other choice than to take the couple to court.
The Couple Claimed They Never Stole His Money
Bobbitt claimed that McClure and D’Amico were using his money to buy new cars and go on lavish vacations. This forced the couple to go on the morning talk show “Megyn Kelly Today” to tell their side of the story. D’Amico claimed he only used $500 of Bobbitt’s money at a casino and that he had gotten permission to use it first and then paid it back.
Other than that, he assured the host and the audience that he had never used Bobbitt’s money for his own personal gain.
D’Amico Preferred to Burn the Money Than Give It to an Addict
D’Amico also told the show that Bobbitt was still using controlled substances and that he would use the money they put in his bank account to buy illegal substances. He continued by saying that under the circumstances, he would rather burn all of Bobbitt’s money than hand it over to him in the state he was in. But none of the things he claimed on the show added up.
Bobbitt and the Couple Were Locked in a Legal Battle
The relationship between Bobbitt and the couple had crumbled, and their lawyers were soon battling it out in court and on television. During an interview with NBC News, Bobbitt’s lawyers claimed that their client had only received $75,000 of the GoFundMe donations. But the couple’s lawyer, Ernest Bradway claimed he had already blown through $200,000.
But this didn’t make sense given Bobbitt’s situation.
Bobbitt Wasn’t Living Like Someone With Lots of Money
Bobbitt didn’t have a lot of possessions. In fact, one of his major purchases had been the camper trailer. But once the legal brawl began, the couple threw him out on the street again.
At this point, Bobbitt feared that he would never have access to his money again. It seemed as though McClure and D’Amico had won, but soon the couple found themselves in hot water.
Cops Raided the Couple’s Home
Given that D’Amico was a carpenter, the couple’s life of luxury didn’t make sense. So, in September 2018, McClure and D’Amico got raided by police at their Florence, New Jersey home. The cops confiscated the couple’s personal and business financial statements, a wad of cash and expensive jewelry.
They also towed D’Amico’s new BMW, and Bobbitt supporters rejoiced. But then, something even more shocking came to light.
The Prosecutor Claims Most of the Story Was a Lie
Scott Coffina, the Burlington County Prosecutor, claimed that they had proof that the story the couple and Bobbitt had fed the public was a lie. The trio had come together and made up most of the seemingly heartwarming narrative to scam people out of money. The revelation angered donors and Bobbitt supporters and many wanted to know just how much if any of the story was actually true.
This Is How the Real Story Started
D’Amico had a gambling addiction and often went to casinos with his girlfriend, McClure. They often ran into Bobbitt near a freeway ramp. The man’s Southern accent and charm had won them over.
So they eventually became friends and the couple even offered him coffee and money. But at some point, the three of them came up with a plan that would seemingly change Bobbitt’s life for the better.
They Staged Bobbitt’s Heroic Rescue
On November 10, 2017, McClure and Bobbitt stood side by side by the freeway ramp while D’Amico took a photo of them. An hour after the photo was snapped, the couple launched the GoFundMe campaign complete with a story of how he rescued her by getting her some gas. At first, everything went as planned, but one of McClure’s friends found something very suspicious about the story.
McClure’s Friend Called Her Out
McClure’s friend got very confused when she saw the photo and read the story. She texted McClure and asked her why she didn’t call her after she ran out of gas. She claimed she could have walked over to help her since she lived close to the highway ramp.
That’s when McClure confessed to her that she made it all up. Her friend agreed to keep her secret but then someone close to McClure got suspicious, too.
McClure’s Mother Warned Her There’d Be Trouble
When the story went viral, McClure’s family, particularly her mother, started to suspect that she had made the whole thing up. In fact, she warned her daughter that if the story was a lie, she could end up behind bars. But McClure shrugged it off and kept doing what she was doing.
Ironically, she and D’Amico intended to give Bobbitt all the money, but then they had a change of heart.
The Couple Started Living It Up
Once the couple saw how much money people were donating to the GoFundMe account, they were consumed with greed and started spending the money on trips to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Florida and even Disneyland. They also went shopping for expensive things, bought a BMW and bought tickets to Broadway shows. Eventually, they spent $200,300 but only gave Bobbitt a small percentage of his cut.
And then it happened.
The Couple’s Financial Troubles Began
They thought the cash would never end, but between November 2017 and September 2018, the couple had spent almost all of the donated money. They soon found themselves in trouble. D’Amico had to pawn some of his purchases like expensive watches, a laptop, a video game system and Bobbitt’s camper.
And it wasn’t long before all three of them were down in the dumps.
Text Messages in Court Revealed They Were Broke
One of the text messages presented in court showed that McClure told D’Amico that they only had $10,000 left. The couple had also gotten tired of Bobbitt asking about his money, especially after he relapsed and went to rehab several times. But the status of his money wasn’t the only thing that concerned Bobbitt.
Bobbitt Was Afraid the Truth Would Come Out
Bobbitt was afraid that people would figure out that they had been scammed. It’s the real reason he wanted to move to Montana with his brother, but the couple wouldn’t allow it, hence why he took them to court. Unfortunately, this exposed all of them to the public.
But one of them decided to strike a deal that left another out in the cold.
Legal Troubles Weren’t the Only Issues the Couple Had
There were two storms brewing around the former couple who had been charged in the GoFundMe fraud case. One was fighting for a place to live while the other was at risk of losing her government job. Not only did D’Amico find himself without a roof over his head, but McClure was suspended from her job as assistant secretary at the state Department of Transportation.
It’s unclear if McClure, who earned a base salary of $49,000 was on paid or unpaid suspension. But D’Amico wasn’t doing so hot either.
McClure’s Grandmother Tried to Kick D’Amico Out
McClure’s grandmother, Leslie DeAngelo, filed a criminal complaint against D’Amico because he refused to leave the township property he and McClure were renting from her. D’Amico reportedly promised to vacate the premise by November 1, 2018, but when the cops came to his door in October, he changed the locks and stayed. D’Amico also missed a court appearance related to this complaint, too.
And then, his former girlfriend did the unthinkable.
McClure Claimed It Was All D’Amico’s Idea
After being charged, McClure claimed that D’Amico was the ring leader behind the scam. Her attorney also appeared on “Good Morning America” and released secretly recorded tapes where McClure is heard telling D’Amico that she didn’t have any part in the scam and that she wasn’t going to take the fall for this. D’Amico reportedly responded to her in the recording by telling her that people don’t go to jail for lying on television.
McClure and Bobbitt Turned on D’Amico
McClure formed an alliance with Bobbitt and they both agreed to testify against D’Amico to get a lesser charge. Of course, D’Amico pled innocent of all six charges but was found guilty, but his legal troubles were far from over. Meanwhile, McClure pled guilty to one count of theft by deception in the second degree.
Bobbitt did the same and also pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit theft by deception.
McClure and Bobbitt Made Out Like Bandits
Thanks to the plea deal, McClure was only sentenced to up to four years in jail. Meanwhile, Bobbitt received five years of special probation and had to do a mandatory long-term live-in substance rehabilitation program. But the troubles were just starting for D’Amico.
D’Amico Could Face More Time Behind Bars
D’Amico had been sentenced to five years in state prison, but then he was slapped with new indictments. If convicted, he stands a pretty good chance of ending up in prison for up to 20 years, plus a $250,000 fine. But McClure and Bobbitt can breathe a sigh of relief as they were not included in the new charges.
Was It Possible to Give People Their Money Back?
There was still one question on everyone’s minds. What would happen with the money that people had so generously donated to what appeared to be a homeless man in distress? It seemed impossible that they would get their money back. Or was it?
GoFundMe Took Care of Returning the Money
Now that justice had been served, there was only one thing left to do. The people who had been duped deserved to get their hard-earned money back. And fortunately, GoFundMe was eventually able to return all of the donations to their rightful owners.