On Wednesday, a Florida woman who orchestrated a yearslong romance scam that defrauded an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor out of millions of dollars was arrested.
Federal prosecutors say that Peaches Stergo allegedly started her scam in May 2017 and defrauded the victim out of $2.8 million over four years.
According to the indictment, Stergo met the victim on a dating website and eventually requested money from him so she could pay her lawyer, who was refusing to release funds from an injury settlement.
Stergo claimed that the settlement money had been deposited into her TD Bank account after the victim gave her the money. However, she never received any money from an injury settlement.
After four years of alleged lies, Stergo was charged with one count of wire fraud, which can result in a 20-year prison sentence.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that “Stergo deceived an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor, maliciously draining his life savings so she could become a millionaire through fraud. Stergo forged documents and impersonated a bank employee in exchange for a life of fancy trips, Rolex watches, and luxury purchases.”
On several occasions, Stergo demanded that the victim deposit money into her bank accounts. She claimed that if he failed to do so, her accounts would be frozen, and he would never be repaid.
The indictment revealed that Stergo received 62 checks, totaling more than $2.8 million, deposited into her account.
Prosecutors claimed that Stergo led a lavish lifestyle with the millions she obtained from the fraud while the victim lost his life savings and was forced to give up his apartment.
Stergo is said to have purchased a home in a gated community, a condominium, a boat, and numerous cars, including a Corvette and a Chevy Suburban.
Additionally, she spent thousands of dollars on expensive trips, hotels, gold coins, jewelry, Rolexes, and designer clothes from Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.
“Today we allege the defendant callously preyed on a senior citizen simply seeking companionship, defrauding him of his life savings,” said FBI’s Mike Driscoll.