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GoFundMe says it will cover the losses for the homeless man whose funds are missing

After a GoFundMe for a Philadelphia man raised $400,000, most of the money disappeared. As the authorities work on figuring it out, GoFundMe says they’ll front the man the money.

GoFundMe says it will cover the losses for the homeless man whose funds are missing

The mystery of where the missing $400,000 raised in GoFundMe for Johnny Bobbitt, a Philadelphia homeless man still hasn’t been solved yet, but today GoFundMe announced that Bobbitt is going to get his money from them while the authorities work to recover it.

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The problem started last year after Bobbitt, who was panhandling, gave $20 to a stranded motorist named Kate McClure. In turn, McClure and her boyfriend Mike D’Amico set up a GoFundMe to raise $10,000 to help Bobbitt get off the streets. More than 14,000 donors contributed, creating a massive and potentially life-changing pot of money for Bobbitt.

But now there are questions over who exactly tapped into those funds. McClure and D’Amico promised they would put all of the donations into a trust for Bobbitt so he could access the money. That didn’t happen. Bobbitt initially claimed he only received about $75,000, much of which was earmarked for things like a car and camper. He also said that McClure and D’Amico appear to be been living far beyond their means in recent months, sparking his suspicion that they might be spending the funds.

The archived GoFundMe. [Screenshot: GoFundMe]

After Bobbitt gained pro-bono representation from Philadelphia law firm Cozen O’Connor, the case took a few strange twists. First, a New Jersey judge ruled that McClure and D’Amico needed to give Bobbitt all of the contributed funds. But McClure and D’Amico have since reportedly told attorneys that all the funds are gone. That prompted Florence Township Police Department to search their property and seize a new BMW. The couple is due back in court on September 10 to provide a full accounting of just what happened to the windfall.

Initially, GoFundMe gave Bobbitt $20,000 so that he wasn’t penniless while the details of the case were emerging. On September 6, they strengthened that position, noting that whatever the outcome of the court case they immediately plan to award Bobbitt the full amount of what he still hasn’t received (the actual amount remains unclear).

“GoFundMe and Cozen O’Connor on behalf of Johnny Bobbitt are pleased to report that [Bobbitt] will be made whole and we’re committing that he’ll get the balance of the funds that he has not yet received or benefitted from,” says GoFundMe spokesperson Bobby Whithorne in a statement to Fast Company.

“GoFundMe’s goal has always been to ensure[Bobbitt] gets support he deserves,” he says, noting that this falls in line with an online guarantee “that in the rare case that GoFundMe, law enforcement, or a user finds campaigns are misused, donors and beneficiaries are protected. We’re fulfilling that commitment and we will continue to work with Johnny’s team to make sure he’s receiving all donated amounts,” he adds.

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The company says it will also continue to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

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About the author

Ben Paynter is a senior writer at Fast Company covering social impact, the future of philanthropy, and innovative food companies. His work has appeared in Wired, Bloomberg Businessweek, and the New York Times, among other places.

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