Friday marks Holocaust Remembrance Day. The world is spending the day honoring the six million Jewish people and millions of prisoners of war and others who were victims of the most horrifying part of World War II.
And in a case of incredibly dark timing, the American government is coming down on a woman they say defrauded an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor. The woman is accused of stealing nearly $3 million — the man’s entire life savings — in a cunning, long-lasting, and heartless romance scam.
This week, the Justice Department revealed they have brought fraud charges against 36-year-old Peaches Stergo. The Florida resident (pictured above, in her mugshot) is also said to go by the name Alice Stergo. According to the arrest report, Stergo has been charged with one count of wire fraud for coercing a Manhattan man to send her “millions” of dollars over a period between 2017 and 2021. The victim is not publicly identified in the report, referred to only as “an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor.”
The indictment claims Stergo first met her mark on a dating website “about six or seven years ago.” The two began talking, and over time, Peaches allegedly got him to send her money. That fraudulent process reportedly began in May of 2017, when Stergo claimed she’d been in a car accident:
“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, bank records show the Victim wrote his first check to Stergo for $25,000.”
From there, the proverbial flood gates opened. Stergo allegedly put even more pressure on her victim to write her “almost monthly checks,” many of which were “in increments of $50,000.” Geez.
Every month, Stergo reportedly told the man her bank “needed more money” or they would close her account. And every month, he continued to send checks. He got suspicious at various points, but Stergo allegedly “falsified documents and emails from a bank” to convince him of her story. This went on for more than FOUR YEARS!!!
Finally, in October of 2021, the man told his son about what was happening. The son took action and alerted authorities. The damage was done, though. According to the indictment, the victim “lost his life savings and was forced to give up his apartment” because of the alleged fraud.
Meanwhile, “Alice” lived very well on the illicitly-gotten cash. The indictment lays out a laundry list of perks she picked up while allegedly reaping the rewards of the romance scheme:
“She has lived a life of luxury with the millions she received from the fraud: she bought a home in a gated community, a condominium, a boat, and numerous cars, including a Corvette and a Suburban. … 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, jewelry, Rolex watches, and designer clothing from stores like Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.”
But now, the free ride is over — and it sounds like the government intends to come down hard on Stergo. In a statement released to CNN on Wednesday along with the indictment, the FBI‘s New York field office head Michael J. Driscoll stated:
“Today we allege the defendant callously preyed on a senior citizen simply seeking companionship, defrauding him of his life savings.”
Driscoll confirmed the FBI arrested Stergo at her home in that gated community in Champions Gate, Florida. She “will be transferred to New York” to face the federal charges. Here’s more on the arrest and investigation:
You can read the Justice Department’s indictment for yourself at the link HERE. Such a sickening situation…
[Image via US Attorney’s Office]