CITRUS RIDGE, Florida — A 36-year-old Florida woman accused of defrauding an 87-year-old Holocaust survivor of his life savings in a "years-long scheme" was arrested on Wednesday, according to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ said Peaches Stergo of Champions Gate, Florida, deceived the man, "maliciously draining his life savings so she could become a millionaire through fraud."
"Stergo forged documents and impersonated a bank employee in exchange for a life of fancy trips, Rolex watches, and luxury purchases," the DOJ said.
The department said Stergo and the victim met on a dating website about six or seven years ago. Then around early 2017, Stergo asked the victim to borrow money to pay her lawyer, who she claimed refused to release funds from an injury settlement.
After the victim gave her the money, Stergo said she had received settlement funds but, in reality, never received any money, according to the department.
"Over the next four and a half years, Stergo continued her lies," the department said. "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, the DOJ said, adding that she also used a fake email account and created fake letters and invoices that appeared to be from an employee of TD Bank.
Stergo was able to buy a home in a gated community, a condominium, a boat, and multiple cars, while the victim had to give up his apartment, the department said.
The 36-year-old woman has been charged with one count of wire fraud, which the DOJ said has a maximum sentence of 20 years.