ATLANTA — The infamous “Casanova Scammer” admitted under oath Thursday that he conned his way into the lives and bank accounts of dozens of women he met online, and then ran off with more than a million dollars of their money before he was caught.
His name is Brian Wedgeworth, and he duped all those women during a four-and-a-half-month period immediately after he was released from a Georgia prison where he had served time for victimizing a DeKalb County woman the same way.
Prosecutors say Wedgeworth began scamming women online more than 20 years ago, and has been in and out of prisons during that time, but continued to victimize countless women.
So, for years, women across the country have been going online, trying to warn everyone to stay away from Wedgeworth whenever he was popping up on dating apps.
Tekesia Johnson had not seen those 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, Florida, First Coast News, in 2017. “He was, like, ‘Well, can you call me or can we FaceTime, so I can see that you’re not catfishing me?’ And that’s the funny part.”
Johnson would later find out that at the time Wedgeworth approached her online, he had just been released from a Georgia prison where he served time after pleading guilty to defrauding a DeKalb County woman out of thousands of dollars.
Wedgeworth’s scam was always the same—look for women on dating apps, tell them he was a wealthy surgeon, and begin to gain their confidence.
He conned Johnson the same way. She said he quickly wanted to 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 throw him off, and if I was broke and he was looking for money, that would run him away. But he said that, ‘It’s okay, I’ll pay off your debts.’”
And he did pay them—the balance on her student loan, all her credit card bills, and other debts--or so she thought.
And then he was able to scam her out of thousands of dollars of her own money, and he talked marriage, in Las Vegas, before she found out his deposits to her accounts had bounced.
Thursday in a federal courtroom in Florida, Wedgeworth admitted to his latest crimes; he confessed he took more than $1 million from 40 women across the country he found on dating apps between October 2016 and March 2021.
The FBI says in 2021 alone, online romance scammers victimized tens of thousands of women out of more than $1 billion.
Johnson died last year, just before the feds indicted 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 walk of shame, because I did it to myself.”
Wedgeworth remains in federal custody, facing, potentially, decades in prison when he is sentenced in August.