Alleged ringleader of $400,000 GoFundMe scam hit with federal indictment

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The accused mastermind of an elaborate GoFundMe scam that duped thousands of victims out of more than $400,000 has been hit with a 16-count federal indictment a month after pleading guilty to state charges stemming from the hoax involving his ex-girlfriend and a homeless veteran.

A federal indictment unsealed on Wednesday charges Mark D'Amico of New Jersey with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, money laundering and other charges connected to the 2017 scheme that conned victims into believing the homeless vet, Johnny Bobbitt Jr., gave D'Amico's then-girlfriend, Katelyn McClure, his last $20 when she ran out of gas on a darkened freeway off-ramp in Philadelphia.

The indictment accuses D'Amico and McClure of blowing the ill-gotten gains on personal expenses, including a BMW, clothing and luxury handbags. The court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Camden, New Jersey, also charges that D'Amico spent "significant amounts" on gambling.

If convicted, D'Amico, who has already been sentenced to five years in state prison, could face up to 20 years in federal confinement and a $250,000 fine, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a statement.

D'Amico's attorney did not respond to a request from ABC News for comment.

D'Amico, 41, pleaded guilty on Dec. 6 in state Superior Court in Burlington County, New Jersey, to misapplication of entrusted property arising from the scam that duped more than 14,000 people into rewarding Bobbitt for helping out a stranded woman in the middle of the night.

In March, McClure and Bobbitt pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, respectively. They are both awaiting sentencing.

McClure, 29, and Bobbitt, 37, were not included in the new charges filed against D'Amico this week.

In November 2017, the threesome fabricated the feel-good story and created a GoFundMe page they titled "Paying it Forward" and furthered the scheme by doing numerous local and national media interviews, including one on ABC's "Good Morning America."

The scam began to unravel when Bobbitt, who military officials confirmed was a Marine Corps veteran, filed a lawsuit in August 2018 accusing D'Amico and McClure of using the GoFundMe donations as their "personal piggy bank to fund a lifestyle that they could not otherwise afford."

New Jersey authorities launched an investigation in the phenomenally successful crowd-sourcing campaign and in November 2018 charged McClure, D'Amico and Bobbitt with second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

"The entire campaign was predicated on a lie," Burlington County prosecutor Scott Coffina said at the time. "Less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign went live, McClure, in a text exchange with a friend, stated that the story about Bobbitt assisting her was fake."

After being charged, McClure turned against D'Amico, claiming the scam was his idea from the get-go. Her attorney even appeared on "Good Morning America" and released secretly-recorded bombshell tapes casting D'Amico as the ringleader.

"You started the whole f------ thing. You did everything. I had no part in any of this, and I'm the one taking the f------ fall," McClure is heard telling D'Amico on the recording.

D'Amico allegedly responded, "You don't go to jail for lying on TV, you dumb f---."

GoFundMe eventually returned all the donations to the people who were duped.

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