A Florida man accused of posing as a prominent surgeon on dating sites and swindling over 20 women out of some $750,000 is expected to plead guilty to the allegations on Thursday, the Miami Herald reported.
The accused, identified as 46-year-old Brian Brainard Wedgeworth, could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison on charges of fraud and money laundering.
The accused man went by multiple aliases on the dating sites, and his modus operandi involved tricking women to believe he was a single surgeon who was ready to settle down, New York Post reported.
Federal prosecutors in Tallahassee said Wedgeworth was a serial dating scammer who browsed several sites in search of his victims. He is also said to have started scamming more than 10 years ago. And he swindled his victims out of cash, luxury items, and checks. He even managed to get a 2018 Sugar Bowl ticket from one of his victims.
One of his victims, Tenasia Johnson, told investigators that Wedgeworth’s online profile described him as a thoracic surgeon by the name of Brian Adams. Wedgeworth allegedly erased Johnson’s doubts about him after he offered to cover her mortgage to allow them to start building a financial future as a couple, the Miami Herald reported.
Upon gaining her trust, Wedgeworth managed to convince Johnson to buy him a luxury watch. The fake doctor told Johnson he wanted her to make the purchase so she could begin the process of having her credit stabilized.
But after buying the watch, Johnson shortly realized Wedgeworth had scammed her after the payment he made for her mortgage did not clear as a result of inadequate funds. Johnson also realized several other women had fallen victim to Wedgeworth after she investigated him.
Johnson was, however, unsuccessful in having the money she spent on Wedgeworth returned. The accused man was indicted a month after Johnson died in 2021, the Miami Herald reported.
Romance scams have become prevalent over the last few years as a result of the increasing popularity of online dating sites. The FBI reported that people who fell victim to such illegalities were swindled out of an estimated amount of over $1 billion last year.