A Metro Vancouver man who tried to bilk an elderly Ontario woman out of more than $20,000 in a lottery scam has been sentenced to jail time.

Court - Gravel

Mohamed Moseray, 31, pleaded guilty in September to mail fraud and possessing a false identity document. He was sentenced on Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster.

In November 2012, an 88-year-old Hamilton woman received a letter from someone claiming to be the president and director of North American Sweepstakes informing her that she had won $1.5 million in a lottery.

The letter instructed her to call a specific number to collect her winnings. When she called, Moseray told her that in order to claim her money she had to pay $22,000 in tax.

Moseray instructed the woman to pay in cash by tucking the money into the pages of a magazine and sending it to Surrey labelled “wedding pictures.” He also told her to keep it a secret.

That evening, the woman told a relative what had happened. The relative immediately recognized the scam and called Hamilton police, who then contacted the Surrey RCMP. The RCMP notified Canada Post and the package was intercepted.

The money was returned to the victim and she suffered no financial loss.

The Surrey RCMP also asked Canada Post to notify them when someone came to pick up the package, and Moseray was arrested when he did so. He was released on bail soon after his arrest and has remained on bail for the past three years.

Crown and defence made a joint submission for a sentence of six months less a day.

Justice John Harvey agreed with the joint submission, and ordered Moseray to surrender himself to the sheriffs at the New Westminster courthouse on Jan. 20 to begin serving his sentence.

Crown prosecutor Elise McCormick said the pleas and sentence were carefully negotiated and crafted to try to avoid harsh immigration consequences for Moseray, who came to Canada in 2004 as a refugee from Sierra Leone. He is currently a permanent resident.

The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that a permanent resident is inadmissible to Canada on the grounds of serious criminality if they are convicted of a crime punishable by a maximum sentence of 10 years or more or are sentenced to more than six months in jail.

McCormick said there is no guarantee that Moseray will be allowed to stay in Canada, but deportation will not be automatic.

McCormick said it was aggravating that Moseray targeted an elderly and vulnerable victim and that his offence required planning and deliberation.

However, he did enter a guilty plea, he has no criminal history, the victim suffered no financial loss and there is no indication that he had other victims.

Defence lawyer Scott Wright said his client struggled to find work and at the time of the offence was on social assistance. In addition to supporting himself, he sends money to family in Sierra Leone.

He said Moseray has stayed out of trouble while on bail and the crime was unsophisticated and out of character for him.

When he addressed the court, Moseray said, “It’s something that will happen no more because it’s not me — I’m not like that.”