Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that PEACHES STERGO pled guilty today before United States District Judge Edgardo Ramos in connection with her years-long scheme to defraud an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor of his life savings.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Peaches Stergo stole the life savings from an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just looking for companionship. This conduct is sick – and sad. Using the millions in fraud proceeds, Stergo lived a life of luxury, purchasing a home in a gated community and a Corvette, taking vacations at hotels like the Ritz Carlton, and buying thousands in designer clothing, while at the same time causing her elderly victim to lose his apartment. Thanks to the hard work of the FBI and this Office, Stergo is being held accountable for her fraud.”
As alleged in the Indictment:
From at least in or about May 2017, up to and including at least October 2021, STERGO engaged in a scheme to defraud an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor (the “Victim”) of over $2.8 million, which was his life savings.
STERGO met the Victim on a dating website approximately six or seven years ago. In or about early 2017, STERGO asked the Victim to borrow money to pay her lawyer, who she claimed was refusing to release funds from an injury settlement. After the Victim gave her the money, STERGO said the settlement funds had been deposited into her TD Bank account. In reality, bank records show STERGO never received any money from an injury settlement.
Over the next four and a half years, STERGO continued her lies. She repeatedly demanded that the Victim deposit money into her bank accounts. She claimed that if he did not, her accounts would be frozen and he would never be paid back. In total, the Victim wrote 62 checks — totaling over $2.8 million — that were deposited into one of two of STERGO’s bank accounts.
In furtherance of the fraud, STERGO created a fake email account, intended to appear as if it belonged to a TD Bank employee. She also created fake letters from a TD Bank employee and fake invoices.
While the Victim lost his life savings and was forced to give up his apartment, STERGO 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.
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STERGO, 36, of Champions Gate, Florida, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. In connection with the guilty plea, STERGO agreed to pay $2,830,775 in restitution and to forfeit the same amount, along with over 100 luxury items she purchased with fraud proceeds, including Rolex watches, designer purses and clothing, and large amounts of gold and jewelry.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 27, 2023, at 11:00 a.m.
Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Sowlati is in charge of the prosecution.