A Florida woman has pleaded guilty in New York federal court for a years-long scheme to take the life savings of an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor.
“Peaches Stergo stole the life savings from an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just looking for companionship,” said Damian Williams, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “This conduct is sick – and sad. 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.”
Stergo, 36, met the victim on a dating website six or seven years ago, prosecutors say. Beginning in May 2017 until at least October 2021, she methodically took his life savings, more than $2.8 million.
According to the US Attorney’s Office, her first request was to borrow money to pay her lawyers, who she said was not releasing funds from an injury settlement. She told the victim that the settlement money had been deposited into her bank after he gave her funds, but bank records show that never happened.
“Over the next four and a half years, Stergo continued her lies,” prosecutors said. “She repeatedly demanded that the Victim deposit money into her bank accounts. She claimed that if he did not, her accounts would be frozen and he would never be paid back. In total, the Victim wrote 62 checks — totaling over $2.8 million — that were deposited into one of two of STERGO’s bank accounts.”
She also created a fake email account which she used to pretend to be a bank employee.
Stergo pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and faces up to 20 years in prison. She also agreed to pay $2,830,775 in restitution “and to forfeit the same amount” along with multiple luxury items she bought with the money to took from the victim.
Sentencing is scheduled for July 27.
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[Featured image: Peaches Stergo/US Department of Justice]