• Vie. Feb 3rd, 2023

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Florida woman charged with swindling $2.8M from Holocaust survivor in romance scam

A 36-year-old Florida woman used a romance scam to defraud a Holocaust survivor out of his $2.8 million life savings, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Peaches Stergo of Championsgate, southwest of Orlando, was arrested Wednesday in Florida and is charged with one count of wire fraud, the US Attorney’s Office for Southern New York said.

Stergo, who also goes by «Alice,» met the victim, an 87-year-old Manhattan man, on a dating website six or seven years ago, authorities said.

In 2017, he asked for money, claiming he had obtained a settlement from a lawsuit but needed to pay his lawyer to receive it, prosecutors said.

He followed a series of lies for four years, according to an accusation.

Stergo falsely claimed that he needed more and more money or else his TD Bank accounts would be frozen and never paid back, according to the indictment.

He also forged emails purporting to be from TD Bank and false invoices to deliver to the victim’s bank to explain the large transfers, the indictment says.

In all, 62 checks for $2.8 million were deposited into their accounts, according to the indictment.

It stopped in October 2021 when the man told his son he had given his life savings to the woman, but was promised the money back and the son said he had been scammed, according to the indictment.

An attorney for Stergo was not listed in federal court documents online. A number listed as his did not appear to be operational.

Stergo spent the money on a house, a condo, a boat, trips, cars and Rolex watches, prosecutors said.

People lost more than $1 billion in romance scams in the US in 2021, the FBI said in february. There were about 24,000 victims that year, the agency said.