JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man known as a “Casanova” scammer has been sentenced to nine years in federal prison, after a judge said he showed little remorse and court records show he bragged about getting a book deal and Netflix series based on his actions.
According to court documents, Brian Wedgeworth, 46, pleaded guilty to 25 counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering. He will now spend the next nine years in federal prison.
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According to the plea agreement, Wedgeworth scammed 40 women across the nation out of more than a million dollars. He created social media accounts and dating website profiles to lure women into thinking he was a respected doctor who was looking for a wife.
The sentencing report includes the aliases he used; they all included the title of doctor. He told women he was a surgeon and went to Harvard. However, investigators found out he didn’t graduate college.
On one social media page, federal investigators said, Wedgeworth went as far as posting photos of a surgeon in a hospital, but the man pictured wasn’t him.
Investigators said one female victim even let Wedgeworth move in with her, and at their home, he displayed a counterfeit University of Pennsylvania diploma. He also manufactured a Harvard School of Medicine student transcript and used a fake California driver’s license under another name.
According to the investigation, Wedgeworth used flirtatious tactics over text messages and video chat sessions. He offered to pay victims’ student loans, home mortgages, car loans and credit card bills. However, the victims would get a notification a few days later saying the payment didn’t go through based on an insufficient electronic payment.
In-between the time of the payment and the email, Wedgeworth would meet the victims in person. He would ask them to loan him money telling the women he would pay them back.
In some instances, according to the court documents, he put his name on the victim’s credit card without their knowledge. The cards would be used to purchase high-end watches and jewelry that Wedgeworth would turn around and sell to second-hand buyers.
Court documents revealed victims fell for his ruse because he used familiar terminology since many of the women also worked in medical professions.
According to investigators, the victims were educated, ambitious, and successful in their careers.
Some of the victims told investigators his lies and deceit left them feeling alone and ashamed of their bodies. One stated he “violated her soul, mind, body and spirit and for months (she) cried (herself) to sleep.” According to the court document she also said he “stole her mental well-being as she struggles every day to keep a genuine smile and laughter at work or with family/friends as she continues to rebuild her life again.”
Tom Stephens who works for the Better Business Bureau, said romance scams are unfortunately on the rise. The FBI reported more than $1 billion worth of fraud last year.
“Typically they are working five, six, or seven, eight victims at the same time,” Stephens said.
He offered this advice for determining whether someone is a certified physician or not:
“You can go to the licensing board for doctors in Florida and find out if he actually has a license as a doctor.”
Wedgeworth, who has a criminal record including fraud convictions, continued scamming women while he was being held in the Georgia State Prison system. Court documents revealed several phone calls to family members including his mother and daughter. During those phone calls, Wedgeworth was recorded saying he was getting a light sentence and would be going to a “federal prison camp and you can play golf.” He called it “more of a vacation.”
Wedgeworth also bragged about being called “The Tinder Swindler of Florida” and said he was going to get a book deal and a Netflix series out of this. He also told his daughter if the Netflix series got them a lot of money it can help secure her future.
During the sentencing process, two letters were added to the record. One was from Wedgeworth’s ex-wife who said in a statement, “I have known him for approximately thirty years. We have shared some celebratory moments and milestones as parents of our only daughter. He is very smart and charismatic individual who is determined to reach his goals. Brian has demonstrated that he has a tremendous amount of love and commitment for his family, especially his daughter.”
A second letter was also sent by his mother—who was also listed as one of Wedgeworth’s victims. She wrote, “I am faithfully confident that Brian is sincerely sorrowful for his criminal actions/behavior and the magnitude of the harm and loss that has resulted from the same. It has been my prayer and I believe that he is repentant, and has decided that when this phase is over he will pursue being the law abiding family man and citizen that everyone who knew him expected him to be.” She added he was a good child in general and she doesn’t know when he went wrong.
Wedgeworth was sentenced to nine years in federal prison with three years of supervised release. He was eligible to get up to 20 years on each of the 14 counts.
He will also have to pay $1.1 million in restitution.