Prosecutors in the US have accused a New Jersey couple and a homeless man of manufacturing a viral hoax that raised hundreds of thousands of pounds through a crowd-funding website.
Officials say the story of homeless man Johnny Bobbitt Jr giving his last $20 to Kate McClure when she ran out of petrol on Interstate 95 in Philidelphia, who then started a GoFundMe page as a way to say thank you, is false.
The campaign, which quickly went viral, raised more than £310,000, which McClure and her partner Mark D’Amico said they would release to Bobbitt once he had completed a drug rehabilitation program.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
“The paying-it-forward story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true. Unfortunately, it was. The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said.
The story began to unravel when Bobbitt sued McClure and D’Amico, telling media that the couple had not provided him with the promised funds, The Guardian says.
CNN reports that Bobbitt, McClure and D’Amico face charges of “second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception”.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.