Florida woman swindles Holocaust survivor out of $2.8m in romance scam

Shekels and dollars
(photo credit: THOMAS WHITE / REUTERS)

The suspect used the Holocaust survivor's money to buy a house, a boat, cars and other extravagant luxuries as the elderly man lost his life savings.

Florida woman Peaches Stergo was arrested Wednesday after a US Department of Justice indictment alleged she defrauded an elderly Holocaust survivor out of $2.8 million.

Stergo, 36, met the 87-year-old man on a dating website between 2016 and 2017. In early 2017, Stergo asked the victim to borrow money to pay her lawyer, who she claimed was refusing to release funds from an injury settlement – a lie, according to bank records that allegedly showed she never received settlement funds.

“The defendant callously preyed on a senior citizen simply seeking companionship, defrauding him of his life savings,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said in the DOJ indictment. 

The woman’s scam against an elderly Holocaust survivor

The seal of the US Justice Department is seen on the podium in the Department's headquarters briefing room before a news conference with the Attorney General in Washington, January 24, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

From 2017 to 2021, Stergo continued her fraudulent behavior, asking the victim for bank deposits continuously and telling him that if payments did not continue, her account would be frozen and she would be unable to pay him back.

Stergo was able to amass a fortune including a home in a gated community, a condominium, a boat, and numerous cars. The US Department of Justice further outlined her extravagant spending, with tens of thousands of dollars stolen from the victim spent on expensive meals, jewelry, watches, and designer clothing.

The Holocaust survivor, on the other hand, lost his apartment as his life savings dwindled. He finally let his son know about the situation in 2021. 

“As alleged, for years, 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,” US Attorney Damian Williams said.

Stergo is charged with one count of wire fraud and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

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