Woman, 45, faces jail for fraud after faking cancer and raising £45k

A mother who faked having ovarian cancer to rake in more than £45,000 in donations from well-wishers is facing jail after being found guilty of fraud. 

Nicole Elkabbas, 42, from Broadstairs in Kent, claimed she needed to pay for treatment and set up a charitable GoFundMe website but transferred the donations into her own bank account.

But she was never diagnosed and instead used huge sums of cash to fund her gambling addiction, pay off mounting debts and splash out on her ‘expensive lifestyle’ – including £3,592 on tickets to watch Spurs football matches.

Nicole Elkabbas, 42, of Broadstairs, Kent, pictured outside Canterbury Crown Court, has been found guilty of fraud after faking cancer to receive donations

Tearful Elkabbas sat in the dock at Canterbury Crown Court in Kent wearing a grey coat and polka dot scarf as the jury of nine men and one woman returned a guilty verdict.

They found her guilty of one count of fraud in relation to false representation of having ovarian cancer in order to receive money for treatment between February and August 2018.

Elkabbas was also found guilty of one count of possession of criminal property in relation to the charitable donations which were subsequently transferred into her bank account.

The jury, who had deliberated for just over 11 hours after being sent out on Wednesday afternoon, found her guilty on both counts by a majority of nine to one.

Former Harrods and Marks and Spencer employee Elkabbas described herself as a ‘gambling addict’ in 2018 after she spurned more than £60,000 in a year, calling her habit ‘excessive, erratic and extreme’.

Elkabbas posted a photograph of herself in hospital from a previous operation on her GoFundMe page to elicit donations

Elkabbas posted a photograph of herself in hospital from a previous operation on her GoFundMe page to elicit donations

She travelled to Spain on six separate occasions, including just weeks before her arrest, but denied a trip to Barcelona where she visited the Sagrada Familia represented a ‘tourist trip’.

Instead Elkabbas claimed she was visiting a specialist clinic where surgery would cost 40,000 euros and a further 13,700 euros a month for a cycle of drug treatment lasting between six to 12 months.

But Judge Mark Weekes said: ‘There was no paperwork for procedures in Spain or medical records to prove this.’

In a dramatic U-turn when taking the stand, Elkabbas even admitted ‘now I do not know if I had cancer’ despite previously stating she was ‘100 per cent sure’ she had the disease.

She also accepted ‘what was written on the page was misleading’ and regretted not updating it.

Elkabbas, pictured, has denied fraud and said she believed that she had cancer

Elkabbas, pictured, has denied fraud and said she believed that she had cancer

The fundraising page titled ‘Nicole needs our help treatment’ was written in the third person from her mother, who Elkabbas cares for full time, and played on the public’s heartstrings by describing her as a ‘beautiful daughter’ and ‘loving mum to her 11-year-old son’.

Prosecuting Mr Irwin explained a picture on the GoFundMe website showing Elkabbas ‘apparently stricken and in her hospital bed looking very poorly indeed’ was in fact from a previous operation to remove her gallbladder.

The surgery at the Spencer Private Hospital in Margate, Kent was paid for by private healthcare insurance and completely unrelated to cancer, ‘instead used to garner sympathy’.

Consultant General George Tsavellas, who conducted the keyhole surgery in January 2018, found ‘no malignance whatsoever’ and said both ovaries ‘looked normal’.

Prosecuting Ben Irwin said: ‘She didn’t use that money for cancer treatment.

She didn’t need that money for cancer treatment.

‘Ms Elkabbas instead used that money to gamble, pay old debts and fund her expensive lifestyle.’

One woman directly transferred £4,900 after she was convinced by Elkabbas’ ‘lies’ designed to ‘extract money’, according to Mr Irwin.

The jury was told Elkabbas, defended by Oliver Kirk, even met a Good Samaritan who donated £5,900 in person to convince him she needed more cash.

She messaged an online pal who she swooned into her campaign by describing the ‘torment’ her medical procedures had caused her young son, the court heard.

In interview at Canterbury Police Station, Elkabbas repeatedly insisted she had cancer and admitted setting up the GoFundMe page but the ‘truth began to creep out’ as she spoke of gambling debts.

Defending Oliver Kirk told the trial Elkabbas claimed consultant gynaecologist Nicholas Morris diagnosed Elkabbas with ovarian cancer before she set up the GoFundMe page.

But this was undermined by an email she had sent him saying: ‘Have had diagnosis.’

Mr Morris said she had never been his patient and described Elkabbas’ claims as ‘complete fantasy’.

The Judge told Elkabbas of Broadstairs, Kent: ‘You have been convicted on what I regard as compelling evidence on both counts.

‘As far as the guidelines are concerned, there will be a custodial sentence.’

The judge said he would consider her steps to address her gambling, caring for her ill mother and the fact she is a single mother when determining her sentence.

Elkabbas was released on bail and is expected to be sentenced in February 5.

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