A Florida woman scammed a Holocaust survivor on a dating site and stole $2.8 million from him
The defendant used the money to buy a boat, Rolex watches, and other luxury items. He faces up to 20 years in prison
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New York authorities released this image of Peaches Stergo, the woman accused of defrauding an 87-year-old man
The US Attorney's Office in Southern New York reported that a 36-year-old woman years old Florida used a dating website to scam a Holocaust survivor out of his life savings.
The woman from Championsgate, southwest of Orlando, was identified as Peaches Stergo and was arrested this week on charges of wire fraud for an alleged theft of more than $2.8 million from a 87-year-old man from Manhattan. Prosecutors say she used the money to buy Rolex watches, a boat and other luxury items.
“The defendant cruelly took advantage of an elderly man who was simply seeking companionship,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll stated in announcing the charges. If convicted, she could face up to 20 years in prison.
According to the investigation, Stergo met her victim on a dating platform online six or seven years ago. And in 2017, she began asking him for money, claiming she needed to pay her lawyer, who she said was refusing to pay her compensation for injuries in a car accident.
For four yearsthe lies continued. “Stergo told the victim that his bank needed more money, otherwise the accounts would be frozen and the victim would never be reimbursed,” the indictment says. “The victim kept writing checks because she was afraid she would never see her money again.” Stergo even forged emails posing as TD Bank and false invoices to deliver to the victim's bank to explain the large transfers.
Prosecutors say that , altogether, 62 checks were deposited in the Stergo accounts for a total value of 2.8 million dollars. “The victim lost his life savings and was even forced to give up his apartment,” the investigation warned.
The scam was stopped in October of 2021 when the man told his son that he had given his savings to Stergo under the promise that the money would be returned to him. According to the indictment, that's when the son told him he had been scammed and the man stopped sending the woman checks.
After announcing the arrest of Stergo on Wednesday, Driscoll stressed that the FBI was “determined to bring justice to victims of fraud and to ensure that fraudsters face justice for their actions.”
The FBI reported that in the United States more than 1,000 million dollars were stolen with romance scams from some 24,000 victims in 2021.