TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Florida man who pretended to be a surgeon to meet women on dating sites and steal their money was indicted on federal charges last week, prosecutors said.
Brian Brainard Wedgeworth had been referred to in various media reports as “the Casanova Scammer.”
Wedgeworth, formerly of Tallahassee, is said to have swindled money from at least 21 people in Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Tennessee and Maryland.
According to the indictment, Wedgeworth met his victims on dating apps such as Bumble, Plenty of Fish and Christian Mingle. He claimed to be a physician and surgeon, who had attended and worked at prestigious universities and hospitals. He also said he was a member of the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. Many of his victims were in sororities, and would have been familiar with the fraternity, prosecutors said.
The women gave Wedgeworth their banking and credit card information after he promised to help them pay off their debts, the indictment claims. Wedgeworth would then pay off the debts using bank accounts that were previously closed and had insufficient funds, and the women were notified that their debts had been paid in full, when they were not.
Prosecutors said Wedgeworth fraudulently added himself as an authorized cardholder to some accounts and would increase his victims’ credit card limits or obtain lines of credit and cash advances in their name. With their money, he would buy tickets to sporting events and Rolex watches.
Wedgeworth told the women he didn’t have enough money to keep the lights on at his practice because he was paying their debts and his bank account was frozen due to a malpractice lawsuit. They started wiring him money and sending him cash and checks. Wedgeworth also convinced the women to buy him jewelry and watches, the indictment said. He allegedly fleeced them out of more than $750,000 in funds and property in total.
Prosecutors also accused Wedgeworth of making fraudulent statements to avoid detection.
A woman had confronted Wedgeworth after discovering he was a convicted felon using a fake name. He told her he was working for the government in an undercover capacity, and needed to become incarcerated to catch correctional officers who were committing crimes. He told her the various media reports, which referred to him as “the Casanova Scammer,” were part of his cover story, the indictment said.
Wedgeworth was arrested in Tennessee on charges of wire fraud, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and mail fraud counts, up to 10 years in prison for the money laundering counts, and a minimum mandatory sentence of 2 years in prison, consecutive to any other imprisonment that might be imposed, for the aggravated identity theft count.