When Johnny, a homeless man based in Philadelphia, spent his last $20, he wasn’t looking at it as an investment – but it’s about to pay him huge dividends. After he helped a New Jersey woman who ran out of gas, she returned the favor by raising a lot more on the internet. And by a lot, I mean more than a quarter of a million dollars.

Kate McClure, 27, was driving into Philadelphia to visit a friend when she ran out of gas on Interstate 95. “He saw me pull over and knew something was wrong,” she wrote. “He told me to get back in the car and lock the doors. A few minutes later, he comes back with a red gas can. Using his last 20 dollars to make sure I could get home safe.”

She couldn’t repay him at that time because she had no cash with her. “I have been stopping by his spot for the past few weeks. I repaid him for the gas, gave him a jacket, gloves, a hat, and warm socks, and I give him a few dollars every time I see him.”

One day, when she bought a few cereal bars for Johnny, he responded by asking “Do you want one?” Kate decided to do more for the good Samaritan, so she started a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe.com, and it quickly gained far beyond its initial $10,000 goal.

“He is very interested in finding a job, and I believe that with a place to be able to clean up every night and get a good night’s rest, his life can get back to being normal.” According to her, Johnny was an ammunition technician in the Marines and had been a firefighter and paramedic before getting hit by hard times.

The fundraising page was taken down for a time at Johnny’s request when it reached $100,000 because he didn’t want to seem like he was taking advantage of the situation. Eventually, McClure said that she restarted it because interest had not abated. She also added that Johnny is more than pleased with the amount and he plans to donate the rest to a good cause.

According to the New York Post, Johnny wants to get a job at an Amazon warehouse in Robbinsville, New Jersey and a recruiter from the tech company has already reached out, saying she wants to help him secure a spot.

UPDATE: 

According to a recent TIME magazine article, the New Jersey couple and homeless man behind this viral GoFundMe campaign fabricated the heartwarming story in order to raise money for themselves.

Mark D’Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt are currently facing charges that include conspiracy and theft by deception after raising more than $400,000 online.

On Thursday, Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina told the public that the story was fake. All three of them conspired to create a “feel-good story” that would inspire people to donate money.

“The entire campaign was predicated on a lie,” Coffina said. McClure and D’Amico have been under heavy investigation since September, after Bobbitt sued them in August, stating that he received only $75,000 out of the $400,000 raised.

Coffina guessed the trio may have gotten away with the scheme had the inner dispute between them not become public.

Police raided McClure and D’Amico’s home, confiscating various items and the BMW the couple purchased with the money. A judge temporarily halted the lawsuit filed by Bobbitt against the couple as the investigation unfolded. A lawyer for the couple said that Bobbitt received about $200,000 from the donations.

GoFundMe provided Bobbitt $20,000 in September as financial assistance during the investigation of the case. On Thursday, however, the company issued a statement, saying that it will fully refund all the money that donors gave to the false charity campaign.

“While this type of behavior by an individual is extremely rare, it’s unacceptable and clearly it has consequences,” GoFundMe said in a statement to TIME, “Committing fraud, whether it takes place on or offline is against the law. We are fully cooperating and assisting law enforcement officials to recover every dollar withdrawn by Ms. McClure and Mr. D’Amico.”

“Driving into Philly one night, I made the mistake of thinking that I would be able to make it all the way down I-95 with my gas light on”

Image credits: Kate McClure

“I was wrong. I never ran out of gas before, and my heart was beating out of my chest.” After Kate pulled over, a homeless man approached her

Image credits: gofundme

“He saw me pull over and knew something was wrong.” The man told her to get back in the car and lock the doors because it wasn’t safe outside

Image credits: Associated Press

“A few minutes later, he comes back with a red gas can. Using his last 20 dollars to make sure I could get home safe”

Image credits: Kate McClure

Johnny was an ammunition technician in the Marines and had been a firefighter and paramedic before getting hit by hard times

Image credits: gofundme

Image credits: gofundme

McClure started a funding campaign to pay Johnny back, and his initial reaction was priceless

 

As of this article, the campaign has reached $289,687

Image credits: gofundme

The Internet believes Johnny is worth every penny