According to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, a Florida woman who “lived a life of luxury” with $2.8 million, she conned out of an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor in a romance scam entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud on Friday.
When Peaches Stergo, 36, is sentenced on July 27, she could spend up to 20 years in prison.
“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.”
In early 2017, she allegedly began asking for loans to pay for a lawyer so that he would release payments from an accident settlement that didn’t truly exist. She had previously met the victim on a dating service.
The tweet below confirms the news:
Florida woman admits to stealing $2.8 million from Holocaust survivor in ‘sick’ romance scam https://t.co/x8MXkRNDiR pic.twitter.com/jpfgjHiwLf
— New York Post (@nypost) April 17, 2023
Elderly Victim Scammed $2.8M in Romance Fraud
No settlement money was ever posted into her account. Still, over the course of four and a half years, the victim signed 62 checks totaling more than $2.8 million in response to her continuous demands for additional money. In order to deceive the elderly victim, Stergo also pretended to be a TD Bank employee and produced fraudulent bank bills, claims the indictment.
Stergo purchased designer clothing from retailers like Louis Vuitton and Hermes during the fraud, along with a boat, several vehicles, including a Corvette and Suburban, and lavish holidays where she stayed at hotels like the Ritz-Carlton.
The victim, meantime, lost his apartment and his life savings as a result of the con.
In court records, a federal public defender is named as her lawyer. On Sunday, a request for comment was not immediately answered. Stergo also consented to lose the many luxuries that she bought and pay $2,830,775 in restitution.
Romance scams have increased as more Americans use online dating sites to find love. According to the consumer advocacy organization Comparitech, 73,000 Americans were allegedly conned from a record $1 billion in 2022.
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