The “heartwarming tale” of a New Jersey couple who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in a viral charity campaign for a homeless veteran via GoFundMe have been charged with theft by deception and conspiracy, according to several reports.
On Thursday, Kate McClure, 28, Mark D’Amico, 39, and Johnny Bobbitt Jr, 34, were all charged with second degree theft by deception and conspiracy in New Jersey.
The story told by the suspects was that McClure ran out of gas on Interstate 95 in November 2017 and Bobbitt helped her by using his last $20 to buy her gas.
The couple then created a fundraiser to repay the man for his warm gesture; eventually accruing donations from more than 14,000 people and surpassing over $400,000 in total.
But investigators say that the story was a complete fabrication.
Prosecutors said that the trio had actually met a month earlier than was claimed at a casino in Philadelphia which the couple frequented and where the homeless man was known to hang around outside.
After duping more than 14,000 trusting donors, the couple traveled to Las Vegas, Disney World, and Disneyland, gambled in numerous casinos, and splurged on a BMW and an array of designer handbags.
All three were under arrest as of Thursday. If proven guilty they may face jail time of five to 10 years for the second-degree crimes.