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Scott Silver Interviewed By Fox 35 For Elder Fraud Romance Scam

Silver Law Group Founder and securities law attorney Scott Silver was recently interviewed about a case in which an elderly Florida resident and Holocaust survivor living in Manhattan was scammed out of more than $2.8 million.

Thirty-six year old Peaches Stergo of Championsgate, FL, was arrested in January after a four-year-long romance scam in which she bilked the 87-year old man out of his life savings. She used the money for a home in a gated community, a boat, multiple cars, jewelry, gold coins and bars, high-end vacations, designer clothing and other luxury items.

How It Began

The “relationship” began about 2016 or 2017, when the victim met the woman on a dating website where the 87-year old man was seeking companionship. Beginning about May of 2017, Stergo began asking the elderly man for money, which he regularly sent.

Calling herself “Alice” to the victim, Stergo began her extortion by telling the victim that she was waiting for a settlement in a car crash case, but her attorney withheld the settlement funds pending a payment from her.

The victim wrote checks to Stergo, starting with one for $26,000. He sent her checks every month for as much as $50,000. Stergo repeatedly told him that she needed more money because the bank would freeze her accounts, and he would never be repaid. Out of fear of losing all his money, the victim continued to write and send her checks.

Stergo created multiple email accounts to pose as bank employees to lend credibility to her fraud, reassuring the victim that he would eventually be repaid. Stergo also sent fabricated letters that were allegedly from the bank.

How It Ended

Finally, in October of 2021, the elderly victim told his son about his “relationship” with “Alice,” aka Stergo. The son told his father that he was the victim of a romance scam. The victim immediately stopped writing the checks to Stergo.

Ultimately, the victim sent Stergo a total of 62 checks totaling $2.8 million. This was the man’s life savings and led to him being forced to give up his Manhattan apartment.

On January 25, 2023, Stergo was arrested in Florida on one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison. In the press release from the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams stated that Stergo planned to “become a millionaire by fraud.”

Romance Scams Are Common

Unfortunately, this definitely isn’t the first time an elderly person has been defrauded by an online relationship, or “romance scam.” Experts say that these scams have been increasing nationwide for all ages, not just elderly victims.

In an interview with Orlando’s Fox 35 about the case, Scott Silver said, “Their creativity knows no bounds.”  Mr. Silver went on to say that one big red flag is when a victim is told that they must invest more money to get their money back. “Don’t be afraid to speak up if you believe someone is taking advantage of you. . .speak up, speak to your family members, there are a lot of resources.” The AARP is one such resource, with a fraud line that can answer questions.

Isolation is one factor that can lead to someone to begin sending money to someone they don’t know. So, it’s important for family members to keep an open line of communication with any members who may be at risk.

One option is to have a bank or brokerage contact a “trusted person” if something looks suspicious. They can freeze that money to prevent the loss before it happens. Many victims fear retribution if they reveal that they’ve been involved in a fraudulent relationship and have suffered losses.

Have You Or A Loved One Experienced A Romance Scam?

Silver Law Group represents investors in securities and investment fraud cases. Our lawyers are admitted to practice in New York and Florida and represent investors nationwide to help recover investment losses due to stockbroker misconduct. If you have any questions about how your account has been handled, call to speak with an experienced securities attorney. Most cases are handled on a contingent fee basis, meaning that you won’t owe us until we recover your money for you. Contact us today at (800) 975-4345 and let us know how we can help.

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