Alleged Mastermind Of GoFundMe Grifters Facing New Federal Charges, Decades In Prison
The alleged mastermind behind a GoFundMe scheme based on a fake feel-good story about a homeless veteran is now facing federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy.
On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced the charges against Mark D’Amico, who stands accused of fleecing online donors out of roughly $400,000 supposedly meant for a homeless man living in New Jersey. D’Amico, who faces state charges as well, pled not-guilty in a federal court in Camden on Thursday afternoon.
In case you need a refresher: Back in 2017, D’Amico’s then-girlfriend, Katelyn McClure, shared a heartwarming story of homeless veteran Johnny Bobbitt, who she said gave her his last $20 when she became stranded without gas on I-95. The story went mega-viral, with D’Amico and Bobbitt joining McClure for TV interviews, and subsequently raising a total of $401,921 on GoFundMe.
After Bobbitt accused the two of keeping the money for themselves, county authorities opened an investigation, and quickly determined the story was “completely made up.” Prosecutors said the couple first met D’Amico on an off-ramp near a Philadelphia casino a few months before concocting the grift.
Earlier this year, Bobbitt and McClure pled guilty to various scamming charges. Bobbitt received five years probation for his role in the scam, and has agreed to help pay back the money. McClure is awaiting sentencing next month, and faces up to four years in prison.
D’Amico, 40, has continued to maintain his innocence, but the new federal complaint places him at the center of the viral scam.
Text messages between the couple allegedly show McClure “freaking out,” telling D’Amico, “I don’t trust you with any money at all whatsoever and this all needs to be accounted for.”
“OK I understand but I’m telling you it’s fine,” he allegedly responds. “Trust me with this it was all my idea I’m not going to do anything.”
Later, according to the complaint, D’Amico promises McClure that he doesn’t plan on retiring off the sum: “You think I’m planning on never working off lOOk?? That’s a weekend to me.”
The complaint also alleges that the duo used more than $10,000 of the funds to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
D’Amico has previously rejected a plea deal for the state charges carrying a five year prison term. He now faces up to 30 years behind bars on the two federal charges.
Gothamist’s inquiries to his lawyer were not immediately returned.