Florida woman who stole $2.8 million from Holocaust survivor in romance scam pleads guilty

A Florida woman who “lived a life of luxury” with $2.8 million that she swindled out of an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor in a romance scam pleaded guilty on Friday to one count of wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced. 

Peaches Stergo, 36, faces up to 20 years in prison when she is sentenced on July 27. 

“This conduct is sick – and sad,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Using the millions in fraud proceeds, Stergo lived a life of luxury, purchasing a home in a gated community and a Corvette, taking vacations at hotels like the Ritz-Carlton, and buying thousands in designer clothing, while at the same time causing her elderly victim to lose his apartment.”

She met the victim on a dating website several years ago, then started asking to borrow money to pay an attorney in early 2017 so that he would release funds from an injury settlement that didn’t actually exist, according to the indictment. 

No settlement funds were ever deposited to her account, but she repeatedly demanded more money over four and a half years from the victim, who wrote 62 checks totaling over $2.8 million. Stergo also impersonated a TD Bank employee and created fake invoices from the bank to trick the elderly victim, according to the indictment. 


Over the course of the fraud, Stergo bought designers clothes from stores like Louis Vuitton and Hermes; bought a boat and multiples cars, including a Corvette and Suburban; and went on expensive vacations where she stayed at places like the Ritz-Carlton. 

The victim, meanwhile, lost his life savings and his apartment during the scam. 

A federal public defender listed as her attorney in court documents did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. Stergo also agreed to pay $2,830,775 in restitution and forfeit the various luxury items that she purchased. 

As more Americans have turned to online dating in search of love, romance scams have been on the rise. An estimated 73,000 Americans were defrauded out of a record $1 billion in 2022, according to the consumer group Comparitech. 

Source – https://www.foxnews.com/us/florida-woman-stole-2-8-million-holocaust-survivor-romance-scam-pleads-guilty

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