Jacksonville accountant gets prison for being love scam’s ‘money mule’ | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans

A Jacksonville-area accountant has been sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to lying on tax forms and helping an online romance scammer collect other people’s money.

Iona Coates, 68, was a “money mule” who funneled cash from the scammer’s targets through her bank account and into cryptocurrency even after federal agents warned she could be prosecuted, a prosecutor told U.S. District Court Senior Judge Brian Davis ahead of the sentencing Tuesday.

Coates “is a very lonely woman” who feels mortified she was part of a hustle that cost other people more than $200,000, her attorney told the judge in seeking leniency.

Besides time in prison, the judge ordered Coates to pay $186,000 in restitution owed on her taxes and another $229,000 to compensate victims of the romance scheme.

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