Peaches Stergo, a 36-year-old woman from Florida, was arrested on Wednesday, January 24, for scamming a Holocaust survivor out of millions of dollars.
Peaches Stergo, who also goes by the name Alice, is accused of running a “romance scam" targeting an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who was divested out of his life savings in the span of four years.
Stergo reportedly began her scheme shortly after meeting the victim on a dating website in 2017. For the next four years, the suspect bled the victim out of millions alleging she had to pay her lawyers, who were withholding funds on an injury settlement.
However, authorities said that the suspect never received money from the supposed injury settlement nor did it exist. The money that was reportedly deposited into the suspect's account was instead used to support her lavish lifestyle.
The victim reportedly lent $50,000, which totalled a sum of $2.8 million in the next four years.
Peaches Stergo was convicted of wire fraud for defrauding a Holocaust survivor
The years-long fraudulent scheme began in 2017 with Stergo first asking the victim to lend money to cover legal fees concerning an injury settlement that was supposedly being withheld by her attorneys.
For four years, Stergo continued to borrow money from the victim, pretending to be nearly destitute from litigation that reportedly didn’t exist.
In a press release, authorities said that Stergo repeatedly demanded that the victim deposit money into her bank account, claiming that her account would be frozen if she did not pay her attorneys and therefore would be unable to pay him back.
Authorities said that while the victim, who lost his life savings in the scam, was forced out of his home, Stergo lived a life of luxury with the money she swindled from the victim.
Peaches Stergo reportedly spent millions on a house in a gated community, a condominium, watches, cars and several other high-end items while continuing to prey on the elderly victim.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:
"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."
“During the course of the fraud, STERGO 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, jewellery, Rolex watches, and designer clothing from stores like Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.”
If convicted, Peaches Stergo could face up to 20 years in prison. Meanwhile, authorities have asked people to stay wary of dating websites that have become fertile grounds for swindlers targeting users over the years.