NEW YORK – A Florida woman has been sentenced to over four years in prison and three years of supervised release after a multiple-year scheme where she stole millions of dollars from a Holocaust survivor’s life savings.
In a news release, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced that Peaches Stergo, 36, of Champions Gate, was sentenced to 51 months in prison in connection with a scheme that lasted for years to defraud an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor of his life savings.
The scheme began in May 2017 and continued until October 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, according to WPEC.
Stergo reportedly met the victim on a dating website about seven years ago, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, according to the news outlet.
Stergo had asked the victim to borrow some money to pay for a lawyer who had been refusing to release the payout for an injury settlement, prosecutors said, according to the AP. The victim gave her $25,000 in May 2017 and over the following four years, the man wrote her 62 checks that added up to around $2.8 million.
Stergo used fake letters from a bank employee and lies to get him to send $50,000 at a time, according to the AP.
Prosecutors said that Stergo had traveled to New York to visit the victim and told him she was a nanny in Florida named “Alice.” According to the AP, she did not share that she was in a long-term relationship with a man and that she had two children.
The victim lost his life savings and had to give up his apartment. According to the AP, prosecutors said that Stergo lived luxuriously with fancy trips abroad, resided in a gated community, and owned a boat and multiple cars. She also spent money on jewelry, bars, and designer clothing, prosecutors said.
“Stergo callously defrauded an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who was simply looking for companionship. She used the millions of dollars in fraud proceeds to live a life of luxury at the victim’s expense. But she did not get away with it. As today’s sentence demonstrates, perpetrators of romance scams will be held to account for their crimes,” Williams said in the news release.
The victim wrote a letter to the judge, the AP reported.
“As a Holocaust survivor, I have endured unspeakable pain and loss in my life, but never did I imagine that I would be subjected to such a heartless betrayal in my old age,” he wrote.
According to the AP, the victim lost both of his parents at the age of 6 in the Holocaust and moved to the U.S. when he was in his 20s.
In addition to her prison sentence, Stergo was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution of the amount of $2,830,775, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. She will forfeit the same amount including the house in the gated community and over 100 luxury items.
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