A Florida woman on Friday pleaded guilty to a years-long scheme to defraud a Holocaust survivor of his life savings, leading him to give up his home, the US Justice Department said.
Peaches Stergo, 36, met her victim, 87, on a dating site in early 2017, and over the course of four years convinced him to transfer $2.8 million into her account, which she used to live a life of luxury, according to a Friday statement.
The statement gave no further details on the victims, only describing him as a Holocaust survivor.
“Peaches Stergo stole the life savings from an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just looking for companionship. This conduct is sick – and sad,” US attorney David Williams said. “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.”
According to the indictment, the woman asked the elderly man to lend her money to pay her lawyer in early 2017, who she claimed refused to transfer funds from an injury settlement.
After the victim complied, Stergo told him the money was deposited in her Toronto-Dominion (TD) Bank account, but records showed she never received the settlement.
Until October 2021, the Holocaust survivor wrote 62 checks to Stergo, who claimed that if she didn’t continue receiving money, her accounts would be frozen and she would never be able to repay him.
Stergo impersonated a TD Bank employee, utilizing a fake email, fake letters, and fake invoices in her scheme.
She was arrested in January following an FBI investigation.
The defendant admitted to one count of wire fraud and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27. The maximum punishment for the crime is 20 years in prison.
The defendant agreed to pay $2,830,775 in restitution, and agreed to forfeit the expensive products she bought with the stolen money, which included “Rolex watches, designer purses and clothing, and large amounts of gold and jewelry,” the statement said.