Prosecutors say Brian Wedgeworth scammed women online for two decades, and his confession on Thursday only accounts for some of his scam victims.
ATLANTA — The infamous “Casanova Scammer” admitted under oath Thursday that he infiltrated the lives and bank accounts of dozens of women he met online, then got away with more than one. million dollars of their money before being arrested.
His name is Brian Wedgeworth, and he tricked all of these women for a period of four and a half months immediately after his release from a Georgia prison where he had served time for victimizing a DeKalb County woman in the same manner. .
Prosecutors say Wedgeworth began scamming women online more than 20 years ago and has been in and out of prison during that time, but has continued to victimize countless women.
So, for years, women across the country went online, trying to warn everyone to stay away from Wedgeworth whenever he popped up on dating apps.
Tekesia Johnson hadn’t seen these warnings when she met Wedgeworth on her dating app five years ago.
“He gave me his phone number,” Johnson told 11Alive’s sister station in Jacksonville, Fla., First Coast News, in 2017. ‘Don’t catfish me?’ And that’s the fun part.
Johnson would later find that at the time Wedgeworth approached her online, he had just been released from a Georgia jail where he had served time after pleading guilty to defrauding a DeKalb County woman on thousands of dollars.
Wedgeworth’s scam was always the same: Find women on dating apps, tell them he was a wealthy surgeon, and start earning their trust.
He cheated on Johnson the same way. She said he wanted to quickly talk with her about finances.
“When he asked me about my financial situation, it alarmed me,” Johnson said. “I told him I was broke, to dump him, and if I was broke and he was looking for money, it would scare him away. But he said, ‘It’s okay, I’ll pay your debts.’ »
And he paid them off – her student loan balance, all her credit card bills and other debts – or so she thought.
And then he managed to scam her out of thousands of dollars of his own money, and he talked about getting married, in Las Vegas, before she found out that his deposits in her accounts had bounced.
In a federal courtroom in Florida on Thursday, Wedgeworth admitted to his latest crimes; he confessed to taking more than $1 million from 40 women across the country he found on dating apps between October 2016 and March 2021.
The FBI says that in 2021 alone, online romance scammers have victimized tens of thousands of women on over $1 billion.
Johnson died last year, just before the federal government charged Wedgeworth in the case that resulted in his guilty plea on Thursday. She devoted what turned out to be the last years of her life to warning others to stay away from Wedgeworth.
“I know it sounds crazy,” Johnson said in that 2017 interview, “but I have to walk the path of shame, because I did it to myself.”
Wedgeworth remains in federal custody, potentially facing decades in prison when sentenced in August.