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Mum 'staged hospital bed photo in £45,000 cancer scam'

A mum accused of faking cancer set up a GoFundMe page with a staged picture of her lying in a hospital bed, a court heard.

Nicole Elkabbas, 42, allegedly pocketed more than £45,000 in donations which she splurged on shopping trips and a box at Spurs.

She spoke about her ovarian cancer diagnosis, subsequent surgery and round after round of gruelling chemotherapy in what prosecutors say were ‘detailed lies’.

Prosecutor Ben Irwin said the scheme to ‘trick and con’ was built around the photo of Elkabbas in hospital that was uploaded to the fundraising page.

‘There she is lying in her hospital bed – what’s that telling the person who looks at this?’ he said.

‘It was deliberately intended. It was staged to convince people that she was seriously unwell.

‘Why would someone do such a thing… knowing full well that that was not a true reflection of the state of her health?’

More than 600 people donated to the GoFundMe page, reaching a total sum of £45,050.

The prosecution alleges the picture was taken when Elkabbas, from Kent, had her gallbladder removed.

They claim she used the money raised from the page to gamble, as well as spending nearly £4,000 on tickets to Tottenham Hotspur, £320 in TK Maxx and buying flights and hotels for trips to Barcelona and Rome.

Elkabbas, a former Harrods fashion consultant, said the Premier League tickets she bought were for a friend who lent her the money previously.

She has denied two counts of fraud relating to the money she received between February and August, 2018. She told the court she ‘truly believed’ she was in the late stages of the disease, and said her trips abroad had been for medical treatment.

She claimed her friend Dr Nick Morris, a leading gynaecologist, had run a series of tests on her that revealed she had cancer in 2017. He told the court he had never treated her and instead she had told him she had cancer.

Jurors heard that she had then set up the donations page after coming across a drug in Spain at Barcelona’s Centro Medico Teknon Hospital which would help her alleged condition. She said this would cost £40,000 and that she was unable to pay for the treatment due to her ‘horrendous’ gambling addiction, which she told the court she had since managed to beat.

Prosecutors allege there is no evidence she was at the Spanish hospital.

Delivering his closing speech on Wednesday at Canterbury Crown Court, Mr Irwin said the defendant’s actions were ‘utterly dishonest’.

He said: ‘It was a scheme designed to trick and to con, and she knew it. So she lied about the major surgery, lied about six cycles of chemotherapy, lied about this wonderdrug, the breakthrough drug.

‘She tricked people who gave her money and then she frittered it away.’

Oliver Kirk, defending Elkabbas, told jurors that she is a ‘vulnerable’ woman who has a genetic predispotion to ovarian cancer and has had cancer in her family.

He said: ‘You will know from your own experiences (that) fear makes us act in pretty unusual ways.

‘This was a case of one woman’s fear of cancer and leaving a son without his mother.’

The trial continues.

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