Florida Woman Arrested For Defrauding Elderly Holocaust Survivor of Over $2.8 Million

Peaches Stergo, 36, a resident of Champions Gate, Florida, was arrested Wednesday and presented in the Middle District of Florida.[0] She will be relocated to a federal court in New York City, where she will be charged with wire fraud, a crime that could potentially result in a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.[1]

Prosecutors allege that Stergo met the victim, an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor, on a dating website six or seven years ago and started feeding him lies around early 2017.[2] She told him that she had settled a lawsuit involving injuries she suffered in a car accident, but that her lawyer would not release the settlement funds unless he received a certain amount of money.[2] The victim wrote his first check to Stergo for $25,000.[1]

Prosecutors allege that over the years, Stergo tricked the victim into giving him money by claiming that if the victim did not do so, their bank account would be frozen and they would be unable to repay him.[0] Over the course of the specified period, 62 checks were sent to Stergo by the victim and deposited into her accounts, according to the indictment.

According to the indictment, the Victim was sending almost monthly payments in the amount of $50,000 to Stergo. Stergo convinced the Victim to deposit checks into one of two accounts he controlled, telling her that if she didn't, her bank would freeze the accounts and she would never get her money back. Fearful of this, the Victim wrote a total of 62 checks – amounting to more than $2.8 million – to be deposited into the accounts.[1]

Stergo used the stolen money to buy a home in a gated community, a condominium, a boat, and numerous cars including a Corvette, the indictment says.[3] She also used his money to travel, buy gold and silver bars, jewelry, and designer clothing.[2]

According to the indictment, the man ceased sending Stergo funds in October 2021 when his son informed him that he was being defrauded.[0]

Stergo has been indicted for a single count of wire fraud, a crime that is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.[4] According to the indictment, the government is seeking for Stergo to surrender the property and all items purchased with the man's funds.[5]

Last year, a total of $201 million was lost by Americans due to online romance scams.[3]

0. “Florida woman scammed a Holocaust survivor out of $2.8 million over 4 years, feds say — and used the money to buy a Corvette, a condo, and shop at Tiffany while the victim as forced out of his home” Yahoo News, 25 Jan. 2023, https://news.yahoo.com/florida-woman-scammed-holocaust-survivor-220045406.html

1. “Florida Woman Defrauded Holocaust Survivor Out of $2.8 Million in ‘Romance Scam,’ Feds Say” Law & Crime, 25 Jan. 2023, https://lawandcrime.com/crime/florida-woman-defrauded-holocaust-survivor-out-of-2-8-million-in-romance-scam-feds-say/

2. “Holocaust survivor swindled out of his life savings by woman he met on a dating website, prosecutors allege” KYMA, 25 Jan. 2023, https://kyma.com/news/2023/01/25/holocaust-survivor-swindled-out-of-his-life-savings-by-woman-he-met-on-a-dating-website-prosecutors-allege/

3. “Florida woman accused of swindling $2.8M from Holocaust survivor in romance scam” THE TIMES OF BENGAL, 26 Jan. 2023, https://www.thetimesofbengal.com/international/florida-woman-accused-of-swindling-2-8m-from-holocaust-survivor-in-romance-scam

4. “Florida Woman Arrested For Defrauding Holocaust Survivor Of $2.8 Million In Connection With Romance Scam – L …” L'Observateur, 25 Jan. 2023, https://www.lobservateur.com/2023/01/25/florida-woman-arrested-for-defrauding-holocaust-survivor-of-2-8-million-in-connection-with-romance-scam

5. “Holocaust survivor’s $2.8 million in life savings stolen in ‘romance’ scam, feds say” AOL, 25 Jan. 2023, https://www.aol.com/news/holocaust-survivor-2-8-million-220724068.html