In a troubling case of financial fraud, a woman in Florida has been sentenced to 51 months in prison for defrauding an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor of $2.8 million through a romance scam. Peaches Stergo met the victim on a dating website several years ago and ultimately manipulated him into giving her his life savings by fabricating stories about an injury settlement. Over the course of four and a half years, Stergo repeatedly lied to the victim, convincing him to deposit money into her bank accounts. She even went so far as to create a fake email account and fraudulent documents to further deceive him. While the victim lost everything, Stergo used the stolen funds to live a life of luxury, buying a home, a boat, and numerous expensive items. Despite the devastating impact on the victim, Stergo expressed frustration not for her actions, but for not making money through legitimate means. This case serves as a stark reminder that romance scams carry significant consequences, and perpetrators will be held accountable for their crimes.
Title: Florida Woman Sentenced To 51 Months In Prison For Defrauding Holocaust Survivor Of $2.8 Million In Connection With Romance Scam
Source: U.S. Department of Justice
Date of Press Release: Thursday, July 27, 2023
The U.S. Department of Justice has recently released a statement regarding a case involving a Florida woman who was sentenced to 51 months in prison for defrauding an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor out of $2.8 million in connection with a romance scam. This article will provide a comprehensive overview of the case, including details of the scam, the impact on the victim, the luxurious lifestyle of the perpetrator, the sentencing and restitution, as well as the investigation and prosecution of the case.
Summary of the Case
Perpetrator sentenced to 51 months in prison
Fraud involved an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor
Victim lost $2.8 million, his life savings
Perpetrator used romance scam tactics
Fraud took place from May 2017 to October 2021
In a recent sentencing, a Florida woman was condemned to 51 months in prison for defrauding an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor out of $2.8 million. The victim, an elderly man who had gone through unimaginable traumas in his life, fell victim to a romance scam orchestrated by the perpetrator. Over a period of more than four years, the perpetrator used various tactics to extract money from the victim. This fraudulent scheme took place from May 2017 to October 2021, resulting in the loss of the victim’s entire life savings.
Prosecutor’s Statement on the Sentence
Perpetrator took advantage of an elderly Holocaust survivor
Perpetrator lived a luxurious life with the stolen funds
Justice was served with the sentencing
Romance scammers will be held accountable
The prosecutor involved in the case highlighted the severity of the perpetrator’s actions, emphasizing that she preyed on an elderly Holocaust survivor who was simply seeking companionship. The perpetrator callously defrauded the victim, using the stolen funds to fund a life of luxury for herself. The sentencing of 51 months in prison represents a step towards justice for the victim and serves as a warning to romance scammers that they will be held accountable for their crimes.
Details of the Scam
Perpetrator met the Victim on a dating website
Perpetrator asked for money to pay her lawyer
Victim wrote 62 checks totaling $2.8 million
Perpetrator created fake emails and letters
Perpetrator saw defrauding the Victim as her ‘business’
The scam began when the perpetrator met the victim on a dating website approximately seven years ago. In early 2017, the perpetrator asked the victim to borrow money to pay her lawyer, claiming that the lawyer was withholding funds from an injury settlement. The victim, being kindhearted and wanting to help, provided the requested funds. This marked the beginning of a prolonged manipulation by the perpetrator.
Over the course of the next four and a half years, the perpetrator repeatedly deceived the victim, demanding that he deposit money into her bank accounts. She created false narratives, claiming that her accounts would be frozen if he didn’t comply and that he would never be paid back. The victim, trusting the perpetrator, wrote a staggering 62 checks totaling $2.8 million, which were then deposited into the perpetrator’s bank accounts. To enhance the illusion, the perpetrator even created fake emails and letters from a supposed bank employee.
Disturbingly, the perpetrator saw defrauding the victim as her “business.” She even made derogatory remarks about the victim’s financial situation, highlighting her lack of remorse and disdain for legitimate employment.
Impact on the Victim
Victim lost his life savings
Victim was forced to give up his apartment
Financial and emotional devastation
The consequences of this fraudulent scheme were devastating for the victim. He lost his entire life savings, which amounted to $2.8 million. As a result, he was forced to give up his apartment, leaving him without a stable home. The financial loss alone was substantial, but the emotional toll cannot be overstated. This act of betrayal and manipulation by the perpetrator has left the victim in a state of financial and emotional devastation.
Luxurious Lifestyle of the Perpetrator
Perpetrator bought a home in a gated community
Perpetrator owned a condominium, a boat, and multiple cars
Perpetrator went on expensive trips and stayed at luxury hotels
Perpetrator spent large amounts on fine dining and luxury items
While the victim suffered tremendous losses, the perpetrator used the stolen funds to finance a luxurious lifestyle. She purchased a home in a gated community, demonstrating the extent of her ill-gotten gains. Additionally, she owned a condominium, a boat, and multiple cars, including a Corvette and a Suburban. The perpetrator indulged in extravagant trips, staying at high-end hotels such as the Ritz Carlton. She also spent exorbitant amounts on fine dining experiences and luxury items, including gold coins, bars, jewelry, Rolex watches, and designer clothing from high-end stores like Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.
Sentencing and Restitution
Perpetrator sentenced to 51 months in prison
Perpetrator ordered to pay restitution of $2,830,775
Perpetrator must forfeit assets purchased with fraud proceeds
As a result of the perpetrator’s actions, she has been sentenced to 51 months in prison. In addition to the prison term, she has been ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,830,775. This restitution is meant to compensate the victim for the financial losses he incurred due to the scam. Furthermore, the perpetrator must forfeit the assets she purchased with the proceeds of the fraud, which include the home she bought in a gated community and over 100 luxury items, such as Rolex watches, designer purses and clothing, as well as significant amounts of gold and jewelry.
Investigation and Prosecution
Outstanding investigative work by the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Case handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit
Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Sowlati in charge of prosecution
The successful prosecution of this case was made possible through the diligent efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who conducted an outstanding investigation. The case was then handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit, with Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Sowlati leading the prosecution. Their commitment to pursuing justice and holding the perpetrator accountable played a vital role in securing this sentencing.
Assistant U.S. Attorney in Charge
Name: Nicholas Biase
Phone: (212) 637-2600
For further inquiries or information related to this case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Biase can be reached at (212) 637-2600.
In conclusion, this case serves as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by romance scams and the devastating impact they can have on victims. The story of the Florida woman sentenced to 51 months in prison for defrauding an elderly Holocaust survivor out of $2.8 million is a sobering display of manipulation, greed, and the lasting effects of financial fraud. As the justice system continues to hold romance scammers accountable, it is crucial for individuals to remain vigilant and informed about the tactics used in these scams to protect themselves and their loved ones.