Florida’s Own Tinder Swindler
May 27, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense Social Share
A man in Florida has gained the title of “Casanova Scammer” after multiple accusations of targeting women and scamming them out of money.
After Netflix’s popular “Tinder Swindler” documentary aired earlier this year, it highlighted the type of white-collar crimes that can take place in the online dating scene. Specifically, when an individual feigns romantic interest to gain the trust and eventual financial access from others on the internet.
Now Florida’s own Tinder swindler has been accused of scamming almost two dozen women across eight states, equating to more than $1.3 million. Now that he has pleaded guilty in Tallahassee’s federal court to 25 counts of various forms of fraud, we will take a closer look at the case and all of its details.
The Dating Scam
Brian Brainard Wedgeworth, 46, is facing a potential 30 years in prison for the defrauding he committed against a large number of women. So how did it all begin?
Wedgeworth was using dating apps to match with women in different states. He used ten different aliases, and mostly told the women he was a successful surgeon. Wedgeworth was making false promises to the women he matched with, in exchange for them to send him expensive watches, jewelry, or large sums of money.
Wedgeworth’s scams took place between October 2016 through March 2021 with at least 21 different women. He supposedly used 10 various dating platforms and used 9 banks from fake checks and wire transfers.
To gain the trust of the women he matched with, Wedgeworth would often agree to meet over video call or even in person. He allegedly promised several women to pay off their debts, even sending a fake presentation to prove his surgeon persona.
The U.S. Postal Service and the Internal Revenue Service have investigated the case, and are currently looking for any more victims Wedgeworth may have taken advantage of.
U.S. Attorney Jason Cody gave a news release regarding the case, stating, “Our citizens should not be preyed upon by fraudsters who steal through overtures of affection.”
District Judge Robert Hinkle called upon Wedgeworth after accepting the plea. He asked a series of questions regarding the case, including whether or not Wedgeworth suffered from mental illness or was coerced into a guilty plea. Wedgeworth responded, “No, sir” to both questions.
Wedgeworth is currently scheduled to be sentenced on August 8th, 2022. He is facing up to 20 years in prison for wire and mail fraud, 10 years for money laundering, and a mandatory two years in prison on identity theft counts that will be consecutive to any other imposed sentence.
Defendant’s History of Fraud
Wedgeworth is not unfamiliar with fraud charges. In fact, the defendant has fraud charges dating back to two decades. He had pleaded guilty in the past to similar charges, including dozens of counts of fraud and forgery in several states.
Upon his arrest in Tennessee last year, Wedgeworth was also wanted at the same time by the police in both Alabama and Ohio. Although the defendant did plead guilty to his charges, it was rare that he ever served a full sentence.
White Collar Crimes in Florida
In the state of Florida, white-collar crimes can be prosecuted as federal crimes. Several common white-collar crimes include RICO, mail fraud, wire fraud, bankruptcy fraud, Ponzi schemes, and identity theft. You can read more about the various types of white-collar crimes on our informative page here.
For the case of Wedgeworth, he has been charged with counts of wire fraud, mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, and money laundering.
- Money Laundering – Money laundering is described as when an individual disguises financial assets so they can be used without any detection of the illegal activity that produced the money. Under Florida Statute Section 896.101, the Florida Money Laundering Act states that it is unlawful for an individual to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of the proceeds of specified unlawful activity.
- Wire Fraud – Under 18 U.S.C. 1343, wire fraud means that that the accused intentionally devised or participated in a plan to defraud another by using interstate wire communication. Examples of wire communication are phones, radios, or telephones that crosses state lines.
- Mail Fraud – Codified under 18 U.S. Code 1341, mail fraud involved the scheme to defraud an individual of money or property through the use of mail services such as the United States Postal Service, UPS, or FedEx. An example of mail fraud includes selling through the mail a non-existent property to a resident in another state or region.
- Aggravated Identity Theft – Under 18 U.S. Code 1028A, it describes aggravated identity theft is when an individual knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses the identification of another person without lawful authority. For a federal prosecution to secure a conviction, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly transferred, possessed, or used a means of identification of another person without lawful authority, and in that perpetration of any of certain enumerated crimes.
White-collar crimes in Florida are a broad genre, meaning that the penalties for such crimes can vary. To find out about the various penalties for a white-collar crime conviction, head to our page for more information.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
An accusation of a crime can appear shocking and intimidating, especially when it deals with large sums of money. White-collar crimes are taken very seriously and can range from being prosecuted by the state or by the federal government depending on the case. If you or a loved one have been accused of a white-collar crime, reach out to an Florida criminal defense attorney. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients all across the state of Florida for various criminal charges. We understand the importance of strategizing a strong defense and working tirelessly to ensure your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message for a free consultation today.
Written by Karissa Key