Florida Woman Arrested For Defrauding Holocaust Survivor Of $2.8 Million
An Indictment was unsealed today charging a Florida woman with engaging in a years-long scheme to defraud an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor of his life savings. Peaches Stergo was arrested today and will be presented in the Middle District of Florida.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “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. Today’s arrest reemphasizes this Office’s commitment to seeking justice for victims of financial frauds.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment, from at least in or about May 2017, up to and including at least October 2021, Stergo engaged in a scheme to defraud an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor (the “Victim”) of over $2.8 million, which was his life savings.
Stergo met the Victim on a dating website approximately six or seven years ago. In or about early 2017, and asked the Victim to borrow money to pay her lawyer, who she claimed was refusing to release funds from an injury settlement. After the Victim gave her the money, Stergo said the settlement funds had been deposited into her TD Bank account. In reality, bank records show she never received any money from an injury settlement.
Over the next four and a half years, she continued her lies, repeatedly demanding 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.
In furtherance of the fraud, Stergo created a fake email account, intended to appear as if it belonged to a TD Bank employee. She also created fake letters from a TD Bank employee and fake invoices.
While the Victim lost his life savings and was forced to give up his apartment, Stergo lived a life of luxury with the millions she received from the fraud: she bought a home in a gated community, a condominium, a boat, and numerous cars, including a Corvette and a Suburban. During the course of the fraud, she also took expensive trips, staying at places like the Ritz Carlton, and spent many tens of thousands of dollars on expensive meals, gold coins and bars, jewelry, Rolex watches, and designer clothing from stores like Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.
Peaches Stergo, 36, of Champions Gate, Florida, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.