A mother-of-one who conned hundreds into donating more than £40,000 by pretending she had cancer will only have to pay back a fiver.
Nicole Elkabbas spent thousands on holidays, gambling, shopping sprees, restaurants and even £3,592 on a luxury box to watch a single Tottenham Hotspur match.
The 44-year-old from Broadstairs, Kent, falsely claimed on her GoFundMe, which raised £45,350, that she needed to pay for private ovarian cancer treatment in Spain.
However she had been given the all clear from cancer by doctors days before the fundraiser was set up.
As she has no financial assets or ability to repay her nearly 700 victims, she has been ordered to repay just £5 in the next 28 days.
Nicole Elkabbas (pictured), 44, conned kind-hearted members of the public out of £45,000 using a convincing GoFundMe page and even a picture of her lying in a hospital bed. She has now been ordered to pay back just £5
A photo of Elkabbas lying on a hospital bed for a gall bladder operation, which she used for her fundraiser to trick people into making her think she had cancer
Nicole Elkabbass was found guilty of fraudulently accepting £45,350 in donations for an illness she didn’t have
Investigators have since probed her accounts and calculated she made a total of £360,000 due to criminal exploits, Canterbury Crown Court heard.
Her spending habits included gambling more than £60,000 in just 2018, she described her habit ‘excessive, erratic and extreme’.
The former Harrods fashion consultant plead not guilty in her trial in November 2020, claiming she genuinely believed she had cancer.
Elkabbas was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison last year, Judge Mark Weekes said her ploy was ‘pure wild fantasy and a deliberate deceit’ used to finance her gambling habit.
He said: ‘You produced detailed and at times graphic accounts of the treatment you were receiving with a view to keeping those you had snared in your web of lies paying you money.’
Her lies included stories about a major surgery, six cycles of chemotherapy and a wonder-drug.
Elkabbas was also found guilty last year of one count of possession of criminal property in relation to the charitable donations which were subsequently transferred into her bank account
Judge was ‘astonished’ by MP’s comments
The judge who jailed a woman last year who faked having cancer said he was ‘astonished’ by remarks made about her by an MP.
Carolyn Harris MP said of Nicole Elkabbas that she was ‘honest about the crimes she was committed’.
The judge told Elkabbas: ‘I am astonished to read from Mrs Carolyn Harris MP that she considers you were ‘honest about the crimes you had committed’.’
He added that he ‘cannot help but wonder’ if this was a ‘further instance of your playing with the truth’ and manipulating others.
Responding to the judge’s words, the Swansea East representative said: ‘My comments were in connection with her addiction leading her to crime.
‘Like so many who fall into the trap of addiction, they commit crimes out of desperation and whilst Nicole was wrong to commit the crime, she has been honest in her mitigation as to why she did so.’
She was only caught after her consultant oncologist discovered her fundraising page asking for donations seemingly set up by her mother Delores – days after examining her.
Her GoFundMe page, titled ‘Nicole Needs Our Help – Treatment’, featured a frail photo taken after gall bladder surgery months before.
It played on the public’s heartstrings by describing her as a ‘beautiful daughter’ and ‘loving mother to her dear 11-year-old son’.
It described the trauma of undergoing three operations and six rounds of chemotherapy leading to now desperately needing money to pay for a breakthrough drug in Spain as the ‘only way she could be saved’.
The 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,
In the end the picture only sped up her capture after a now former friend and leading London gynaecologist stumbled across the GoFundMe page.
Consultant General George Tsavellas, who told the trial last year he found ‘no malignance whatsoever’ and said both ovaries ‘looked normal’ after a January 2018 keyhole surgery.
After quickly working out the photo was taken in Margate, not Spain, police contacted Barcelona’s Teknon Clinic where she claimed to be staying.
The clinic said they had never heard of her, while the doctor treating her did not exist according to Spanish media.