Homeless vet in GoFundMe scam arrested after failing to appear in court
A homeless man accused in a GoFundMe scam was found in Philadelphia Wednesday after failing to appear at a court hearing in New Jersey on Tuesday, according to Jeff Chrusch, a spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department.
Johnny Bobbitt was arrested at approximately 11:40 a.m. and is being held by the Philadelphia Police Department, Chrusch said in a telephone interview with CBS News. Once he is processed, he will be handed over to the Burlington Country Prosecutor's Office where he will face charges, Chrusch said.
Bobbitt had been released from jail following a previous arrest and was awaiting trial. He was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday but officials say he never showed up. An arrest warrant was later issued.
Bobbitt, along with New Jersey couple Kate McClure and Mark D'Amico, all face charges for their alleged involvement in a high-profile GoFundMe scam that raised over $400,000. After a chance encounter at a local casino, the trio allegedly devised a story that prosecutors have since called a fake "good Samaritan" scam. McClure and D'Amico set up a GoFundMe campaign, "Paying it Forward," to reward Bobbitt for his generosity around the holiday season last year.
The story caught the attention of people around the world and quickly soared past their initial $10,000 goal, according to police records.
"It was an irresistibly heartwarming tale," Scott Coffina, the Burlington County Prosecutor, said during a press conference in November.
Prosecutors have revealed there is evidence the entire story was fabricated. According to Coffina, McClure texted a friend less than an hour after the GoFundMe campaign launched, saying the story was "completely made up." McClure did not run out of gas on an I-95 ramp and Bobbitt did not offer his last $20 to help her. In the text exchange, McClure told her friends to "shh about the made up stuff," Coffina said.
In November, Bobbitt, McClure and D'Amico were arrested. They were charged with theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception, and they could face up to ten years in jail.
The crowdfunding platform said last month it has refunded all the money to the 14,000 GoFundMe donors who opened their wallets.
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