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Woman Pleads Guilty To Wire Fraud After Scamming Holocaust Survivor Out Of Life Savings
After facilitating a four-year romance scheme, Peaches Stergo pleaded guilty to wire fraud for tricking an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor into writing her 62 checks, totaling nearly $3 million.
An 87-year-old Holocaust survivor was manipulated out of his life savings by a Central Florida woman, who now faces time in prison, after meeting on an online dating site.
After conducting what prosecutors referred to as a “sick” romance scheme, Peaches Stergo, 36, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, according to NBC News.
“This conduct is sick — and sad,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams. His statement continued, “Thanks to the hard work of the FBI and this Office, Stergo is being held accountable for her fraud,” the New York Post reported.
Once Stergo connected with the victim online in 2017 under the alias “Alice,” she requested that he loan her money to pay a lawyer for an injury settlement. After Stergo told the man that she suffered injuries from a car accident, he wrote her the first of many checks, this one for $25,000, according to previous Oxygen.com reporting.
These funds were allegedly deposited into a TD Bank account, but evidence shows that Stergo did not receive any money from the car accident settlement she spoke of.
“We allege the defendant callously preyed on a senior citizen simply seeking companionship, defrauding him of his life savings,” explained FBI Assistant Director Michael Driscoll. “The FBI is determined to get justice for victims of fraud and to ensure that scammers face justice for their actions.”
An indictment explained that Stergo’s scam lasted a total of four years. She claimed she needed increasing amounts of money to keep her bank accounts unfrozen. Since the victim was afraid of not being paid back, he continued to write her checks.
Stergo ultimately stole more than $2.8 million, in addition to fabricating several invoices and emails, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. By the time the victim’s son found out about his father’s fraudulent relationship, the victim had already been forced to give up his Manhattan apartment, NBC News reported.
“She created a fake email account, impersonating a TD Bank employee, and used that email account to repeatedly assure the victim, over the course of months, that he would be repaid if he continued to deposit money into the TD Bank account,” the indictment specified. “Stergo created fake letters from a TD Bank employee which falsely claimed her account had a hold which would only be lifted if many tens of thousands of dollars were deposited into her account.”
As per Stergo’s plea deal, the prosecutor’s office noted that she will pay more than $2.8 million in restitution fees in addition to forfeiting more than 100 luxury and designer items.
Stergo is set to be sentenced on July 27, and faces up to 20 years in prison.