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‘Casanova Scammer’: Florida Man Accused Of Posing As Surgeon, Stealing $750K From Online Dates, Pleads Guilty
Brian Wedgeworth, 46, who falsely boasted he had connections to Harvard Medical School, allegedly defrauded more than 20 women of $750,000 between 2016 and 2021, federal prosecutors said.
A Florida man who falsely posed as a physician to swindle hundreds of thousands of dollars from several women he met online, pleaded guilty Thursday.
Brian Brainard Wedgeworth, 46, stole approximately $750,000 from upwards of 20 different victims he’d met on dating sites in an alleged romance scam that spanned half a decade, according to a sweeping 25-count indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
Wedgeworth, dubbed the “Casanova Scammer,” entered his plea before U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle Thursday morning, court document show.
Wedgeworth was originally arrested and charged in November 2021 on various charges including wire fraud, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
Federal prosecutors, who described Wedgeworth as a professional romance scammer, accused him of carrying out an elaborate scheme to fleece unsuspecting women in multiple cities and states across the country between 2016 and 2021.
According to the indictment, Wedgeworth went by more than a dozen aliases, targeting vulnerable women on multiple dating apps, including Plenty of Fish, Christian Mingle, Hinge, Bumble, and CoffeeMeetsBagel. Wedgeworth, who often dressed as a doctor in photos he shared online, also distributed fake physician business cards to further the ruse.
Authorities said he also falsely claimed to have attended or be affiliated with prominent universities and hospitals, including University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, John Hopkins University, Harvard Medical School, Weill Cornell Medical College, and others. He also told victims he was a member of the sorority Kappa Alpha Psi.
Wedgeworth, who used his invented image as a successful surgeon to give off the impression he was wealthy, tricked his targets into believing he was willing to pay off their debts and loans, according to prosecutors. After offering financial assistance, his victims often turned over their banking information, including account numbers, logins, and passwords, as well as their social security numbers, full names, and dates of birth, according to the indictment.
“Wedgeworth then sent electronic payments to the women’s credit card companies, mortgage lenders, student loan servicers, and other creditors,” the indictment stated. “These electronic payments were made using bank accounts that had insufficient funds and were previously closed. By making these payments [he] caused the women to receive notification from their lenders and creditors that payments were made on their debts and that their debts were paid in full, when in fact they had not been paid in full.”
Before the fake payments were supposed to clear and post to the womens’ accounts, Wedgeworth allegedly coerced his victims into sending him additional funds, via bank wires, check deposits, and cash withdrawals.
“These false stories included that he did not have the funds necessary to pay the expense for his (fictitious) medical practice because he had paid the women’s debts, and that his bank accounts were frozen due to a medical malpractice lawsuit,” the federal court documents added.
Wedgeworth also allegedly fraudulently added himself as an authorized cardholder on the womens’ accounts, blew up their lines of credit, and obtained cash advances using their lines of credit and debit accounts. The romance scammer, who promised to pay back the women he’d targeted, was also accused of convincing a number of his victims to buy him expensive jewelry, including Rolex watches, as well as tickets to sporting events.
According to the case’s indictment, when one woman learned Wedgeworth was a convicted felon and confronted him, he deflected, telling her he was an undercover federal agent. The 46-year-old claimed he “needed to become incarcerated in order to catch correctional officers who were committing criminal acts,” court filings alleged. When questioned about media reports she’d found referring to Wedgeworth as the “Casanova Scammer” he doubled down again, insisting that the damning articles were part of his “cover story.”
Tenasia Johnson, one of Wedgeworth’s victims, told investigators the suspected con artist introduced himself to her as a thoracic surgeon named Dr. Brian Adams, the Miami Herald reported. Wedgeworth, who offered to pay off her mortgage, later pressured the woman into buying him a luxury watch, according to the newspaper.
After Johnson realized her mortgage payment didn’t clear, she reportedly dug into Wedgeworth’s background, and discovered she’d been bilked. Johnson, who was in the midst of starting a salon business at the time, never recovered the funds, the Miami Herald reported. She died in 2021, weeks after Wedgeworth’s indictment.
Wedgeworth now faces up to more than 100 years in prison if sentenced to the maximum penalty on each charge, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 8. Wedgeworth is currently in custody at a Suwannee County jail, online records show.
Joseph DeBelder, Wedgeworth's federal public defender, declined to comment on the case when contacted by Oxygen.com on Wednesday afternoon.