It was always too good to be true.
The story of a homeless man using his last $20 to buy gas for a stranded New Jersey woman warmed hearts and brought in more than $400,000 in a GoFundMe campaign about a year ago. But now, the man, the woman, and her husband have been arrested on charges that the whole thing was a scam, BuzzFeed News reports.
Late last year, Kate McClure said she'd run out of gas while driving to Philadelphia. A homeless man named Johnny Bobbitt came to her rescue, she said, so she and her boyfriend Mike D'Amico launched a fundraising campaign to pay him back. Things started looking sketchy when Bobbitt said he didn't get much of the money, eventually winning $75,000 in an August lawsuit against McClure and D'Amico, Forbes notes. And now, prosecutors say the whole story was fake.
In text messages sent just an hour after she launched the fundraiser, McClure told a friend she'd made the "buying gas" part of the story up, a New Jersey prosecutor said Thursday. Bobbitt was homeless, McClure said, but they'd allegedly staged a photo together to craft a scheme to split the money. All the money raised by the campaign has since been spent, with more than $100,000 withdrawn at or near casinos, BuzzFeed News says. And D'Amico, McClure, and Bobbitt have all been arrested on second-degree theft charges. GoFundMe has pledged to refund the 14,000 people who donated to Bobbitt. Kathryn Krawczyk