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Woman arrested for swindling an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor out of his $2.8 million life savings

By Melanie Uson Published Jan 27, 2023 3:17 pm

An 87-year-old unnamed man from Manhattan lost his life savings after falling victim to the “romance scam” of a woman he met on a dating site.

The Manhattan man was defrauded by 36-year-old Florida woman Peaches Stergo, also known as Alice, of over $2.8 million (or over P152 million), according to an FBI indictment. She was arrested on Jan. 25 for one count of wire fraud.

Michael J. Driscoll, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office details the case, “The defendant callously preyed on a senior citizen simply seeking companionship, defrauding him of his life savings.” 

According to the indictment, Stergo met the Holocaust victim through a dating site about six or seven years ago.  

The indictment reads, "Stergo told the victim that she had settled a lawsuit involving injuries in a car accident but that her lawyer would not release the settlement funds until he received a certain amount of money."

“In May 2017, bank records show the Victim wrote his first check to Stergo for $25,000,” it continues. This was when Stergo asked him for money to pay her attorney so she could receive the settlement owed to her, which doesn't exist at all, according to prosecutors.

Since then, Stergo has been persuading the man to issue monthly checks for her in increments of $50,000. 

According to the indictment, Stergo told the victim that her bank "needed more money" or that they would freeze her account, and the victim would be paid back. 

She went as far as pretending to be a bank employee, according to the indictment. She sent fake invoices and created a fake email account continuously saying to the victim that he will be repaid as long as he continues to deposit money into the account.  

Prosecutors allege that this is one of a case of “romance scams” prevalent in dating sites, where scammers mostly target the elderly. 

Stergo spent the defrauded money to buy a home in a gated community, a condominium, a boat, and numerous cars including a Corvette, the indictment says. The prosecutors allege that she also used his money to travel, and buy gold and silver bars, jewelry, and designer clothing. 

The victim stopped sending money in 2021 when he was told by his son that he was being scammed. Due to the incident, the man has drained out his life savings, and “was forced to give up his apartment,” the indictment reads. 

If convicted, Stergo could spend as much as 20 years in prison.