They met on a dating app. He was an 80-something Holocaust survivor from New York City looking for romance. She was a much younger Florida woman who prosecutors say was looking for an easy mark.
According to a federal indictment, Peaches “Alice” Stergo found one. Over the course of four years, she allegedly convinced the victim to hand over his life savings: $2.8 million.
He was left so broke he had to leave his apartment. Meanwhile, the indictment alleges, Stergo used his money to live high on the hog.
“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,” the indictment charges.
“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.”
Stergo, 36, convinced the elderly man that she was due a big settlement from a car accident but that her lawyer was refusing to release the funds, prosecutors said. She just needed a loan—$25,000 to start—to pay the lawyer.
After that first check, however, requests for more money followed, along with the warning that the victim had to pony up more if he ever wanted to recoup what he had already given her, the feds said.
When he got suspicious, she allegedly falsified documents and emails from a bank to convince him she was telling the truth.
The scam came to light when the man, who is now 87, confided in his son that all his money was gone.
“Today we allege the defendant callously preyed on a senior citizen simply seeking companionship, defrauding him of his life savings,” FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said in a statement as the wire-fraud indictment against Stergo was announced.
Stergo, who lives in Champions Gate, Florida, was arrested in her home state and will be transferred to New York to face the charges. Court filings did not list a lawyer for Stergo.