People want to see feel-good stories. They want to believe that there are people out there that are trying to help their fellow humans. Many people want to help and want to be a part of the solution, and it is through that desire that sites like GoFundMe began. This site allows people to create an account and to request money for various needs, such as helping take care of medical expenses. The goal of these programs is honorable, but we have to remember that many people do not have any honor before we open up our wallets and purses to provide help. Trusting is good, but verification is divine.
This is certainly true with a case that has been playing out over the past couple of years. Many people do need help, but there are cases like the one below that can turn people away from these types of sites.
The Homeless Man Scam
A couple of years ago, a story broke about a young couple who had run out of gas and who needed a few dollars to put money in their tank. The couple, Katelyn McClure, 29, and Mark D’Amico, 39, said that they met a homeless man that night named Johnny Bobbitt, 36, who was a homeless veteran. They say that he gave them his last $20 to help them with gas.
The couple said that they wanted to do something to pay the man back and help him get back on his feet, so they set up a campaign on GoFundMe. They wanted to get him $10,000 to help him get off of the streets. Once word of their deeds got out, the story went viral, and the campaign ended up bringing in more than $402,000.
However, it turns out that this was a scam. The three were supposed to split the money. The money that was received was spent on gambling, vacations, a car, and similar purchases. This did not sit well with Bobbitt, who never got his share. He filed a lawsuit against the other two. Then, we find out that the entire thing was a scam from the start, and that he had never even given them the original $20 for gas. In fact, they probably never ran out of gas at all. They were all arrested.
The veteran pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by deception in March of 2019 and then entered a rehab facility. He and McClure, who also plead guilty, have also said that they plan to testify against D’Amico in the case. He is facing theft and conspiracy charges, but he wants to take the case to trial. Perhaps he has other information or believes that he could even win the case somehow.
GoFundMe said that they would be reimbursing the 14,000 plus donors to the campaign. This is at least a little bit of good news for them, and it does help the company to save face.
Feel Good Gone Wrong
This case has served as a good lesson for people who consider donating to these types of campaigns online. While it is nice to be able to help people if you have the means, there is always the risk with stories like these that the entire thing is nothing but a scam. It’s sad but true. Those who are considering donating might want to research further to see whether the cause is legitimate. It is unfortunate, but scams like this end up preventing people who need real help from getting what they need because everyone is second-guessing their own donations.