A Broadstairs mum who faked having cancer in order to receive donations to a fundraiser which she then spent on gambling and high living is to be featured in a new six-part series – The Big Swindle.
The series starts on Quest Red and Discovery + tomorrow night (May 13) with the episode examining the case of Nicole Elkabbas, who was jailed for her con in 2021.
When Nicole announced that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, friends, family and strangers donated money to help her get life-saving treatment.
A GoFundMe page was set up with a photograph of Nicole being treated in hospital. The donations flooded in and it quickly shot up to over £45,000. But when a doctor who had treated Elkabbas for a gall bladder operation years earlier saw the photo, suspicions were raised that all was not as it seemed.
Police investigated an unthinkable crime. Could Nicole have faked having cancer to steal from those closest to her?
The new six-part series, The Big Swindle, tells the stories of the most brazen and ruthless con artists who preyed on their victims, starting with Nicole Elkabbas.
In a clip from the first episode, which is due to air on Saturday night at 9pm, lead investigator, Detective Sergeant Marc Cananur, explains just how convincing Ms. Elkabbas was, saying: “She was essentially very convincing. She was adamant that she was dealing with ovarian cancer, provided a timeline on where she’d gone [for treatment] and when, and who she had interacted with.
“She mentioned the Teknon Hospital in Spain where she regularly went for treatment, she mentioned Dr Suarez who was treating her to hopefully prevent her dying from cancer. She was that convincing that when the investigating officers came back to me, they were concerned that we may be dealing with a cancer patient as opposed to a fraudster.
“She listed specific medication she was having, test results, details of how much medical treatment she needed on a regular basis and real finite detail about exact cost implications per month.”
Close friend of Nicole, Jo Mapp, who features in the programme, was equally convinced: “A friend sent an article over to me where it said that a local woman…and it mentioned Nicole Elkabbas …had been arrested for fraud saying that she had got everybody to believe she had cancer and raised a whole lot of money but hadn’t used any of the money for cancer treatment.
“ I didn’t believe it. I absolutely didn’t believe it and friends were saying to me ‘but it’s in black and white’ and I was like no, they are saying she had been arrested for that, they haven’t proven anything. So, I absolutely still didn’t believe it.”
Nicole was given a prison sentence of 2 years 9 months – plus one year to run concurrent -at Canterbury Crown Court on February 10, 2021.
Kent Police previously 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.
Focusing on one story of devasting deceit each episode, those affected reveal the shocking details of what happened and a forensic psychiatrist helps unpack the mindset of the swindlers, as well as social media posts, emails and text messages, to reveal how and why these complicated cons were executed.
The Big Swindle airs on Quest Red Saturday 13th May at 10pm, also available to stream on discovery+