Opinion | ‘Pay It Forward’ couple’s greed calls attention to crowdfunding scams

By Sami Stewart | Opinion Editor

Thanks to social media’s ability to spread awareness like wildfire, crowdfunding endeavors like GoFundMe and Kickstarter have raised money to help people secure startup business expenses, medical bills – pretty much anything you could imagine.

Last November, a GoFundMe campaign titled “Pay It Forward” was launched for a homeless man who gave his last $20 to help Katelyn McClure and Mark D’Amico when they were stranded at a gas station in Philadelphia. The couple started the campaign to pay him back (and then some) for being their saving grace. Not long after, he purchased himself a trailer and began walking a path to recovery from drug addiction.

Things were really shaping up for Johnny Bobbitt, whose life seemed back on track in a matter of weeks. The Pay It Forward campaign raised over $400,000 from more than 14,000 donors. But while Bobbitt bought himself a home with some of the cash, McClure and D’Amico never gave him the full amount.

The couple were ordered by a New Jersey court to fork over the remaining money within 24 hours, but that didn’t happen either.

Bobbitt sued the couple for the remaining $150,000 owed to him, but when the court date came, neither he nor the couple showed. A day later, McClure and D’Amico had their BMW seized.

After the word got out about couple’s dishonesty, donors and followers of the campaign started lashing out on social media, demanding to know where the missing funds from the campaign went and why the couple wasn’t surrendering them to the court.

It’s a classic case study on the problematic nature of crowdfunding. Brick-and-mortar charities employ people to take care of donations and ensure that they are properly distributed. But there aren’t enough people, let alone funds, to oversee the thousands of online campaigns that are constantly starting and stopping.

However, this is also an isolated case where the campaign organizers had possession of the money after the campaign ended. Generally, organizers never touch the money post-campaign, and the funds go directly to the person for whom the campaign was created. Still, there’s no foolproof way to avoid crowdfunding scams.

While these Jersey twerps perpetrated a particularly heinous act of selfishness, I think it beckons some questioning of peoples’ motives for giving. Clearly, this campaign was never really about Bobbitt. McClure and D’Amico threw him a bone – albeit a big enough bone get him out of homelessness – but kept the majority for themselves.

It wasn’t even about the attention for them. I simply think they’re snakes who weren’t satisfied with their Beamer – which, ironically, was pried from their greedy little hands. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” I don’t think King envisioned a flatbed tow truck toting a BMW off into the sunset, but that’s modern justice, people.

The moral of the story? Don’t be an Indian giver if you want to keep your expensive car. Actually, just don’t be an Indian giver – period.

This article provided by NewsEdge.