By Suzanne Martin
A Broadstairs mum-of-one has been found guilty of faking cancer in order to dupe people into giving her money via a Gofundme campaign.
Nicole Elkabbas, 42, of Edge End Road, had denied two counts of fraud relating to money she received between February and August, 2018 but the jury today (November 20) returned a guilty verdict following her trial at Canterbury Crown Court.
Elkabbas conned some 600 people into donating to the fund and even lied about having a cancer operation to “remove her right ovary”. Elkabbas groomed her victims online and from her local community. Her campaign was ruthless and relentless. But the alert was raised by an eagle-eyed private hospital consultant who reported his suspicions to police.
George Tsavellas, a Laparoscopic and Colorectal Surgeon at the Private Spencer Hospital in Margate, described how he had “felt great disbelief” upon hearing of the fake cancer campaign.
Mr Tsavellas said he had been “made aware of the campaign online”. Upon seeing the photograph of Ms Elkabbas appearing to be very sick in a hospital bed, he had a suspicion that it was taken in a room at the Spencer Hospital in Margate and not at a Spanish hospital as Elkabbas claimed.
Mr Tsavellas had diagnosed the defendant with “gallstones” and “upper biliary colic” and carried out “key-hole surgery” to remove her gallbladder as a routine surgery in November 2017. This was when the fake cancer photo was actually taken.
Following his suspicions, Mr Tsavellas consulted the hospital nurse manager believing those images had been taken in the Spencer Private Hospital in Margate in November 2017 and not in the Spring of 2018 when the photos had been posted to social media.
He told the court how he had alerted “his union, the medical defence team, the hospital legal team” and took advice surrounding the strict rules governing patient confidentiality. Only then and with the support of the hospital legal team did Mr Tsavellas contacted detectives at the Fraud Squad at Kent Police to tell them of his concerns.
After her arrest, Elkabbas told the police she had received cancer treatment with Intraperitoneal Chemo, a form of targeted chemotherapy.
But sensationally, during her trial the defendant admitted to the court that the claim was a “lie”. A lie she repeated across social media and as part of her GoFundMe campaign.
Some £45,000 donated to the fund was spent on gambling, hair extensions, holidays and a box at Tottenham for her lover’s family.
Admitting to a ten-year-long gambling addiction, Elkabbas told the court her behaviour is ‘what addicts do”.
Elkabbas, had lied on multiple occasions. She “lied” to members of the public, her family, friends and supporters, some of whom said they had “identified with her” and had paid thousands of pounds to her fake cancer campaign.
She had claimed Nicholas H Morris, a consultant Gynaecologist and Gynaecological Surgeon, diagnosed her with cancer in February 2018. Mr Morris repeatedly denied Ms Elkabbass’ claims that he had diagnosed her or that she had ever been his patient describing it as “pure fantasy”. The court believed him.
The court heard early in the trial that the hospital where Ms Elkabbas claimed to have received treatment, had no record of her. Similarly the doctors she claimed to be in “the hands of” did not know and had not treated her. The court has also been told there is no record of any money paid for cancer treatment within the defendant’s financial statements.
Handing down Judgement, HH Judge Weekes talked of the stress and anxiety Elkabbas’ “wild allegations” had caused the professionals who had come into contact with her.
He said: “The effect of that verdict and anxiety and stress of the consultants concerned with her care and the vindication of Mr Morris and his professional reputation…should go far and wide.”
Referring to the two consultants who had treated Elkabbas in Spencer Hospital, Margate the Judge said: “The work of Graham Ross, as well as George Tsavellas, must be held to be of the highest standard” and “It is important that people have faith in our NHS, particularly at this time”.
As the Judge delivered the verdict, Elkabbas shouted: “It will not be the last you hear of Mr Morris.”
Elkabbas was told to expect to be jailed, with the Judge saying: “As far as the guidelines are concerned, there will be a custodial sentence.”
Elkabbas will be sentenced on February 5 2021. She has been released on bail.