Women across U.S. accuse Nashville man of being the ‘Selfie Scammer’

Jun 23, 2023, 10:39 AM


NASHVILLE, Tennessee (WSMV) — Holding coffee, playing poker, standing on his balcony in downtown Nashville; whatever Todd Dean was up to, he was taking selfies of himself and sending it his new girlfriend in Kentucky.

Jill Schardein, a single mother, was smitten.

“He’s successful, he lives in this amazing condo, he has this business,” Schardein said.

It didn’t hurt that Dean was handsome, with flashing white teeth and a Linked In profile that described himself as a “proven visionary” and CEO of Nashville Sanjara Wellness, a picturesque campus in the hills of Kentucky that he claimed would one day be a world-class mental health facility.

The selfies solidified the image: Dean smiling while getting coffee, smiling while riding scooters in downtown Nashville, smiling while lying in his bed.

What Schardein found odd, though, for a successful entrepreneur, Dean was sure low on money a lot.

For poker, for dinner, a hundred dollars here, 50 dollars there. Always, Schardein said, with a promise of paying it back.

Schardein said was so much love, she said even loaned him nearly $25,000 to help with costs associated with getting Sanjara Wellness off the ground.

“I kind of describe it like an addiction. You can’t understand it unless you’ve been in a relationship like this,” Schardein said.

But she would soon learn, she wasn’t the only one in the past decade that was sent the smiling selfies.

Karla Lawson in Seattle got them too.

So did Donna McMillen in San Diego, and Missy Russell in Ketchum, Indiana, and Karen Alpert in Long Island, New York.

“He’s very, very charming in the beginning,” Lawson said.

“He gets you to buy into his dream,” McMillen said.

“He sent a lot of pictures,” Alpert said. “A lot of selfies.”

And just like Schardein, many of the women also gave him money. And just like Schardein, many claim none of it has ever been repaid, accusing him of making his living off the money of his lovers.

“I am sure I have never despised another human being on this planet as much as I despise Todd Dean,” Alpert said.

The accused selfie scammer

The selfies were one thing, the women say. The love bombs were another.

Short, video clips of Dean, in a car, in his bed, sending messages of how he was thinking about them, how he missed them, how he wanted to make them feel better.

“When you come to Nashville, I’ll be your personal guide,” Dean says in one of the videos.

In another, he says that he’s about to go play poker.

“If you feel like (it), send me 25 dollars?” he asks.

“I think he learned pretty early how to manipulate women for money. He decided to make a living that way,” McMillen said.

“Can he make a living off of doing this?” asked WSMV4 Investigates.

“Oh, he absolutely is,” McMillen said.

Several of the women kept their financial transactions of giving Dean money, as well as the messages they received asking for money.

In one message, Dean describes as being in “survival mode for some time” and needing to come up with $3,500 for “absolute necessary needs.”

In others, he asks, “would you by chance have any extra money?”

The financial transactions show some of the women gave money day after day, week after week.

Alpert, like Schardein, said she loaned him substantial money.

“It’s tens of thousands of dollars,” Allpert said.

In 2018, Alpert received a judgement against Dean for more than $25,000, none of which she said has been paid back.

Because there has been no repayment, the judgement has grown to $44,283.

Schardein, and another woman, who did not agree to be interviewed but confirmed she was once in a relationship with Dean, are now suing him in Davidson County Chancery Court.

In the other woman’s lawsuit, she wrote that she loaned Dean $50,000 and was never repaid.

In that suit, she writes, “I believe there to be 25 or more individuals that are in a similar position such as myself.” That lawsuit also claims that despite what Dean describes on Linked In or on social media, he does not have employment and no steady stream of income.

“His main job is to lure women,” said Russell, who notes that during their brief relationship that he never asked for money.

Russell said it was only after they broke up, did she learn through social media about other women who claim that Dean seduced women only to take their money.

“I actually called the FBI at one point because I was feeling like it was a Ponzi scheme,” Russell said.

WSMV4 Investigates repeatedly called and texted Dean for days with no response.

When we went to his high-rise condo in downtown Nashville, the security guard said he hadn’t seen Dean that day and called to try and reach him, but he didn’t answer.

WSMV4 Investigates also reached out to an attorney named in one of the lawsuits as representing Sanjara, but she did not return our call for comment.

At least two of the women did get promissory notes from Dean, in which he agreed to pay back the money.

The women believe that missing money is helping to fund Dean’s lifestyle, so much, that they’ve given him a nickname: the selfie scammer.

WSMV4 Investigates will continue to track Dean and will provide updates, including if the courts hold him accountable in the lawsuits.

If there’s anything you want WSMV4 Investigates to know about Todd Dean, you can email us here:

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Women across U.S. accuse Nashville man of being the ‘Selfie Scammer’