A GOLD digger has pleaded guilty to cheating a Holocaust survivor out of over $2.8 million in life savings and his apartment in a dating scheme.
Shameless Florida scammer Peaches Stergo, 36, met the unnamed 87-year-old survivor about six or seven years ago on a dating website.
Stergo used the money she tricked the victim to fund her life of luxury, which included Ritz-Carlton vacations, a gated community home, and a condo.
The United States Attorney’s Office called it a “sick and sad” scheme and said the victim was “just looking for company.”
Stergo asked the survivor to borrow money in early 2017, saying it would be used to pay her attorney, who she claimed was refusing to release funds from a claims settlement.
The victim agreed to give Stergo the money, but court documents say there was no settlement and that she produced forged documents, including letters and bills, and a fake email address, all linking to a fabricated TD bank teller were to carry out the program .
“Stergo created forged letters from an employee of TD Bank who falsely claimed their account had a hold that would only be lifted if many tens of thousands of dollars were deposited into their account,” court documents said.
The court documents said, “Stergo also created fake invoices for the victim to show his bank after the bank began questioning the large and repeated money transfers to Stergo.”
Stergo kept demanding money over the next four and a half years.
She would tell the victim that unless he deposits more money into her accounts, their accounts would be frozen and he would never be repaid.
The victim wrote checks about once a month, usually in increments of $50,000, the court documents say.
A total of 62 checks written by the victim totaled more than $2.8 million, deposited into one of two accounts controlled by Stergo.
Stergo spent tens of thousands of dollars on expensive meals, gold, jewelry, and designer clothing from luxury brands like Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.
In October 2021, the scam unfolded when the victim told his son that he “gave his life savings to Stergo over time,” according to court documents.
“The victim’s son told his father that he had been deceived,” the court documents said. “After that, the victim stopped writing Stergo checks.”
The US Attorney’s Office announced on Friday that Stergo pleaded guilty to a count of wire fraud.
She has to pay over $2.83 million in refunds and forfeit the same amount, along with over 100 luxury items she bought from the scam, including Rolex watches, designer purses and clothing, and large amounts of gold and jewelry.
Her sentencing is scheduled for July 27, 2023, where she could face up to 20 years in prison.