He was a Holocaust survivor in Manhattan in his 80s on the lookout for friendship. What he got in return was one of the worst types of friends anyone could ever have. Peaches Stergo introduced herself as a young woman from Florida who really needed a loan. According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, this was the beginning of a multi-year romantic fraud in which the victim lost $2.8 million.
Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, announced that 36-year-old Stergo of Champions Gate, Florida would be charged with one count of wire fraud following her arrest on Wednesday.
According to the prosecution, she had previously met the victim on a dating service and had asked for financial assistance in 2017. According to CNN’s reporting, she falsely stated that she needed $25,000 to pay her attorney because he was holding up the transfer of monies from an injury settlement.
Prosecutors claim that over the next four years, Stergo lied to the man as he sent her 62 checks totaling more than $2.8 million. A claim was made that Stergo threatened to freeze her accounts if he didn’t send additional money, making it impossible for her to repay him. In addition, she allegedly pretended to be a bank employee by sending the victim bogus emails and invoices in which she assured him that he would be compensated if he had any suspicions.
Meanwhile, the indictment states that she purchased a property in a gated community, a condo, a boat, multiple vehicles (including a Corvette), gold and silver bars, Rolex watches and other jewelry, luxury excursions, and expensive clothing. At the end of the day, she “deceived an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor, cruelly depleting his life savings so she could become a millionaire through fraud,” as stated by US Attorney Damian Williams.
In 2021, the alleged fraud was uncovered when the father told his son that he had lost all of his money. Prosecutors claim that the putative victim stopped making checks but subsequently lost his flat as a result. A conviction could land Stergo in prison for up to 20 years.