'Casanova Scammer' sentenced to prison for duping women he met - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

'Casanova Scammer' sentenced to prison for duping women he met online

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DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -

UPDATE (6/25/2014) Brian Wedgeworth, 39, was sentenced to10 years in prison but serve 7 years. He pleaded guilty to identity fraud, forgery in the 1st degree, forgery in the third degree and driving while license suspended. The case involved two victims from DeKalb County.

Wedgeworth may be extradited to Florida to face similar charges.

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UPDATE (9/5/2013) Wedgeworth did not accept a plea deal that would have put him behind bars for seven years. Through his public defender, Wedgeworth told the judge he needed more time to decide. Judge Tangela Barrie told Wedgeworth that the offer may not be available when he returns to court.

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Brian Wedgeworth, 37, of Birmingham, AL, pleaded not guilty to charges of forgery and identity theft for allegedly scamming women he met online.

According to a grand jury indictment handed down in February, Wedgeworth fraudulently accessed the bank account of a DeKalb County woman and possessed a check belonging to her.

Dubbed the "Casanova Scammer," Wedgeworth is accused of defrauding women he met on Internet dating web sites. It's a scheme DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said he's never seen before.

James said Wedgeworth conned women across the country into giving him money after he pretended to pay off their debt. 

"These women really trusted [Wedgeworth]," said James.

The victims later learned the payments Wedgeworth made were from a fraudulent account, according to DeKalb County Police Detective Patrick Cook. 

Cook said his investigation revealed Wedgeworth may have taken money from 60 victims across the country.

James called Wedgeworth's scheme a "shell game." Wedgeworth allegedly used money he received from one victim to help gain the trust of another woman.

According to the indictment, Wedgeworth forged a check on a bank account belonging to Melissa Stephens. James said that check was written for $200,000. 

When arrested by DeKalb County Police in November, Wedgeworth allegedly had a fake Alabama driver's license which led to the second forgery charge.

Cook said Wedgeworth used many aliases but the same ruse. He posed as a wealthy doctor, met women on dating websites, befriended them, quickly promised a future together and ultimately lured them in by paying off their credit card bills, student loans and car loans.

Tamara Houston, 43, of Oakland, CA, said Wedgeworth, who told her his name was Brandon Kirkland, paid off her debt of $86,000. 

The two met on a dating web site and began talking on the phone and on webcam several times a day.

"He had this Southern vernacular that really drew me in," said Houston, a registered nurse.

Within two weeks of meeting online, Wedgeworth told Houston God had told him to pay off her debt. The two called Houston's creditors and Wedgeworth offered bank account information to pay off the loans.

Several days later, Wedgeworth told Houston he needed help and asked her to wire $1,000. He made a second request for $5,000 a week later.

Grateful for his help, Houston complied.

But days later Houston learned Wedgeworth's payments were fraudulent. 

"It wasn't until American Express, Bank of America, USAA started calling me that I realized I just got my ass kicked," said Houston.

Cook said Wedgeworth ripped off at least two women in DeKalb County. He said Wedgeworth targeted professional African-American women.

"He befriends you. He promises a future with you. Then all of a sudden you see your bills being paid by this individual and you think you have a future with this individual," said Cook.

Wedgeworth then reportedly concocts a story to convince his victims to wire him money.

Wedgeworth has been convicted of multiple felonies including financial identity fraud, illegal possession of a credit card, possession of forged instrument and identify theft.

CBS Atlanta News has learned there are warrants for Wedgeworth's arrest in Ohio, Florida and Alabama. Cook said Wedgeworth has victims in at least five other states.

"The women I've spoken with are hurt by what this guy has done to them," said Cook.

Houston said she wants to warn women to follow their instincts and listen to their inner voice when searching for love - a voice Houston said she ignored. 

"I wasn't a victim. I was a damn fool," said Houston.

If convicted of the new charges in DeKalb County, Wedgeworth could be sentenced to 30 years in prison. 

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