An alleged donation scheme involving a New Jersey couple and homeless veteran that netted $400,000 prompted a New Jersey lawmaker to introduce a bill to stiffen penalties for scammers convicted of using crowdfunding platforms to raise money under false pretenses.
The bill, introduced by Republican state Assemblyman Ron Dancer, would increase fines, jail time and restitution amounts for those convicted of using sites like GoFundMe to scam well-intentioned donors.
“Scams like this undermine the foundation of charitable giving,” Dancer said in a statement Wednesday. “New Jerseyans, like many, are a giving people. They don’t hesitate to donate when they see someone in need, but when they are deceived it makes them reluctant to give in the future. The ones who suffer are the folks who have a real need.”
The bill is a direct response to the story of Johnny Bobbitt, Kate McClure and her boyfriend Mark D’Amico, who were all charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception after claiming in a GoFundMe post that went viral that Bobbitt - who was homeless - gave McClure his last $20 so she could get gas while stranded in Philidelphia.
To thank Bobbitt, McClure and D'Amico created the online fundraiser in November 2017, and 14,000 people donated $400,000. Authorities began an investigation after Bobbitt complained he had not received any of the promised money.
Investigators said money was instead spent on shopping sprees and casino trips. The case is still ongoing.