“Modern Day ‘Good Samaritans Make A Difference” was the title to a post last December on ThePreachersWord.
It was a heartwarming story about a homeless Marine veteran, Johnny Bobbitt who used his last $20 to help a stranded woman, Katelyn McClure, buy gas. As a result, McClure and her boyfriend, Mark D’Amico, set up a GoFundMe page to help Bobbitt, which garnered over $400,000 in donations.
Sadly, we learned yesterday that the whole thing was a scam.
On Thursday the Washington Post reported that “law enforcement officials in New Jersey announced theft charges against all three individuals: the couple, Kate McClure and Mark D’Amico, as well as Johnny Bobbitt, the homeless man they said they were going to support.”
“It was all a ruse, a conspiracy on the part of all three to commit theft.”
“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Scott A. Coffina, the prosecutor of Burlington County in New Jersey, said at a news conference on Thursday.
“Coffina said almost no part of the tale was true. McClure didn’t run out of gas. Bobbitt didn’t spot her in trouble and give her money.”
Apparently, the three met in October 2017 in Philadelphia near a casino and concocted the story to touch our hearts and elicit money.
According to reports, there is no money left. The couple bought a BMW. Took a New Year’s trip to Las Vegas. And bought high-end merchandise.
The prosecutor said “there’s a good chance” the alleged fraud might not have been uncovered had Bobbitt not brought a civil suit earlier this year alleging that the couple mismanaged the funds and he was not receiving the money promised.
Several lessons come to mind.
(1) Greed is not good. While the Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, spouted that “greed is good” in the movie, Wall Street, real life reminds us that greed is bad.
The Bible says that greed is a sin. And is just another form of idolatry (Col 3:5). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk. 12:15).
Greed enticed this trio to shamelessly lie. To defraud unsuspecting donors. And to even cheat one another. Obviously, there’s no honor among thieves.
While few would stoop so low to perpetrate such a shameful scam, greed can fill our minds with carnal thoughts. Blind our eyes to honorable values. And tempt us with the allure of materialistic pleasures.
(2) “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num 32:23). This warning Moses issued to Israel over 3,000 years ago is still true today. Like most sinful schemes, this scam eventually unraveled.
This story is a good reminder that no matter how elaborately we try to conceal the truth and cover up our wrongdoing, sin will ultimately reveal itself in some form or fashion.
Sin has consequences.
Sin can rupture out relationships. Ruin our reputation. And wreck our marriage.
Sin may result in the loss of a job. Expulsion from college. Or lost opportunities.
Sin destroys trust. Harms our families. And hurts our friends.
Sin will separate you from God eternally if it is not admitted and confessed with a penitent heart.
(3) Let’s not fail to do good, just because some people do evil. A story like this one can cause us to be cynical about helping others. It creates suspicion. Distrust. And skepticism.
While we should all be good stewards of our resources and use our best judgment in deciding who is worthy of our financial assistance, we cannot allow cynicism to stymie the Biblical injunction to “do good to all people” (Gal 6:10).
While this case, as Coffina said, “could damage the psyche of the public,” he added, “I urge you not to let that happen. Use caution and common sense when donating.”
By the way, if you donated to help Bobbitt, GoFundMe said it would process all refunds to donors in the coming days.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman