Report by Suzanne Martin
A “cunning and manipulative” Broadstairs woman found guilty of a fake cancer con has been given a prison sentence of 2 years 9 months – plus one year to run concurrent.
Nicole Elkabbas was sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court today (February 10). She duped people into giving her money via a Gofundme campaign in 2018 claiming she needed cancer treatment but then spent it on gambling and high living,
In November the 42-year-old of Edge End Road, was found guilty of two counts of fraud and possession of criminal property relating to money she received between February and August, 2018 through her fake cancer campaign.
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. The alert was eventually raised by an eagle-eyed private hospital consultant who reported his suspicions to police.
The trial in November heard from George Tsavellas, a Laparoscopic and Colorectal Surgeon at the Private Spencer Hospital in Margate, who 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 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.
Today in court, Elkabbas complained about the adverse publicity and media coverage her fraud trial had attracted.
HH Judge Weekes told Elkabbas: “You were convicted on clear and compelling – some may say overwhelming – evidence of the two charges that you faced: an offence of fraud by false representation and an allied offence of money laundering (the proceeds of your fraud).
“So far as your culpability is concerned, it must fall at the highest level – there was both sophistication and planning in the set up and throughout – your carefully turned phrases and choice of words in your updates to add verisimilitude to what you were saying.
“There were a large number of victims, and this was conducted over a significant period of time.”
‘Web of lies’
The judge told the packed courtroom Elkabbas had “produced detailed and at times graphic account of the treatment you were receiving with a view to keeping those you had snared in your web of lies paying you money.
“You tugged at their heartstrings; you made mention of your child to add gild to the lily still further and to attempt to wring more cash out of those you had deceived. All the while, you were gambling, enjoying shopping trips and luxuries in Italy and Spain at their expense.”
The court also heard today that the true extent of Elkabbas’ fraud was for £52,850. There were 697 individual payments made to GoFundMe and more than 600 victims in total.
Insult to cancer sufferers
The judge told Elkabbas: “There are many real cases of those who desperately need crowd funding or charitable donations for themselves or for their relatives at times of acute anguish. Cases such as yours create a mistrust amongst charitably minded members of the public. They create a sense of unease that may make them less willing to give, for fear that, like you, the genuinely stricken person is taking them for a ride. It promotes scepticism and even cynicism in an area that can ill afford it.”
He told Elkabbas her crimes were “insulting to those who must genuinely and courageously face the battle against cancer.”
He added that it was “deeply offensive” that her behaviour had diverted highly skilled and dedicated consultants at the QEQM hospital away from their proper daily task of saving people’s lives into the task of attempting to deal with her and her allegations had the potential to damage QEQM’s reputation.
The Judge told Elkabbas she had quite wrongly impugned the professional reputation and standards of doctor Nicholas Morris and her allegations have been shown on clear and compelling evidence, to use Mr Morris’ word, as fantasy. ”
The court heard harrowing Victim Impact statements from Michal Booker, Katie Taylor, Nicholas Morris, and Steve Pompeus on behalf of the NHS trust.
In mitigation, the court heard that Elkabbas had “taken steps to address the underlying problems that led to her offending. But the judge added: “I am quite unable to accept one of the major themes running through what they say, namely that you have been honest about your offending.
“Quite the opposite is true in my judgment. You fought the case tooth and nail, refusing the accept the fact that you had not been diagnosed with cancer and seeking to impugn the professional reputations of those who had treated you or whom you had dealing with in a non-professional capacity.
“I judge that the remorse you may feel is only partial, and stems to a significant extent from self-pity at the situation in which you found yourself after charge rather than genuine empathy at what you had done to your direct and indirect victims”
Elkabbas will serve up to half of that sentence in custody before she is released on licence. A confiscation order will be made over the summer.
Fraud investigator Oscar Riba Domingo of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: “Nicole Elkabbas is a compulsive liar who took advantage of the charitable spirit of hundreds of people so she could feed her destructive gambling addiction, attend Premier League football matches and enjoy other people’s hard-earned money.
“Cancer is a terrible illness that claims countless lives across the world every day, so for Elkabbas to lie about needing treatment for it is beyond disgraceful. There is absolutely no excuse for her actions and she is deserving of the prison sentence she will now have to serve.”
Kent Police previously also confirmed that Elkabbas was also the subject of a separate fraud complaint which was made over a fundraising boxing gala.
She is said to have held a boxing gala in aid of Broadstairs Town Shed but not to have handed over the £10,000 raised.
The boxing gala in aid of Broadstairs Town Shed was held at the Winter Gardens in May 2017. A video of the event shows the crowded hall and declares the event raised £10,000.
More to follow
Should have been longer. But at least she did get a sentence.
When I, together with my family, owned a pub this happened to us. A good customer and also occasional barman said he had terminal cancer and because he had lost a great deal of weight we believed him. We set up several fund raising events but after receiving the money he suddenly disappeared. However, about a year later he was seen by another customer, completely by chance over a hundred miles away looking fit and well and we realised then that the weight loss had been deliberate to fool us and gain our sympathy.
I feel for the people who were duped into contributing to this lady because it will have destroyed a great deal of trust within them. We have to learn to trust again though because there are many people who do genuinely need our support.
Will any of her assets be seized, to pay off her fraud?
And for Tottenham season tickets,as well!
Probably more of a punishment to let her keep her Spurs season ticket.
Sorry but she should have been given a lot harder sentence.
I know a lady who I garden for in Broadstairs who travels to her apartment in London to work for an escort agency 3 days a week. She pays her taxes and has a nice house and her children go to an excellent school she has a nice life debt free. Some years ago she told Ms Elkabbas who she knew it was a good honest way to earn a good income. Ms Elkabbas replied “ there must be easier ways of earn money”.
Lying through your teeth for England is probably easier than lying on your back & thinking of England for a bunch of ugly, beer bellied old men.
While this is clearly a reprehensible crime, it also smacks of someone who has fallen into a self-destructive spiral of addiction and depression. There’s absolutely no excuse for faking a disease that cruelly afflicts so many families, nor for betraying the trust of so many. She should, without question, be in jail. However, we should also seek to understand what has driven a previously reputable character to make such damaging choices and then persist with the fantasy even to the last day of the trial. Sheer greed and stupidity are not, alone, an answer and I can’t help but think that the paucity of mental health provision in the UK has played its part in this case.
Dear AH your opinion is misplaced she has never been reputable in all the time she has lived in Thanet.
Narcissism is not a mental illness, it is a personality trait, as is being a sociopath.
She persisted to the last day of the trial most likely because she has spent most of her life getting what she wants due to her looks & like all good con-artists her glibness. She no doubt believed she could talk her way out of this despite all the evidence against her, because fluttering her eyelashes & sweet talking has always got her what she wanted previously & her ego thought she could sway enough jurors-especially male ones to her side.
As was said by the judge he believes the only real remorse she feels is for herself, not her victims-but that she got caught & her loss of liberty. The footage of her talking about her supposed lack of mobility to set up the boxing thing shown on the BBC local news at lunchtime today was a classic display of narcissism & sociopathic behaviour, not an ounce of genuine emotion as she tried to emote some kind of camaraderie to empathise with those with disabilities to obtain money.
While there is, I’m sure, a lot of truth in what you say Steve both narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathy are squarely mental health issues. That doesn’t make them likeable traits nor excuse aberrant or criminal behaviour that results from them. And it certainly doesn’t mean they are easy to treat. Importantly, I’m not casting myself as her defender here. What she did was utterly vile and she is rightly paying with her liberty. However, often on this site the comments tend towards the ‘lock up the scum and throw away the key’ type and I think we would do better to balance the punitive with efforts to understand whatever psychological ruptures caused this behaviour and encourage people with similar thoughts to seek therapeutic help.
Yes, her crime while repulsive is not to the extent it requires locking up & throwing away the key or anything like that-the funders online have been refunded in full & she didn’t kill anybody etc.
Totally disagree about the mental health aspect though-there are people who have severe mental disorders they cannot control, vanity & learned behaviour is not that however. Plenty of killers have claimed insanity & no control-yet showed clear premeditation & did their crimes in remote places, not outside a police station or in public places with lots of people.
We all have good & bad character/personality traits-but they are not mental disorders & we can control them to a high degree if we choose to-a man who controls his partner is highly unlikely to act the same way at the office-knowing he will get the push if he does for instance. Even today she is there whining about how the trial has affected her, not any interest in her victims.
To tackle her bad personality traits she would need to acknowledge them & set out to change them-something she has shown zero indication of during the farcical performance she put in & the money wasted. If she had coughed & plead guilty then most likely she would have received a shorter sentence, it is clear from the judge’s comments that he found her unrepentant.
to add gild to the lily?
Hopefully her year & whatever inside might knock some of that entitlement & arrogance out of her. Being an attractive woman in jail is unlike being a con artist not an advantage.
She will almost certainly re-offend once she is out again!