A mum has been found guilty of fraud after faking cancer to trick people into donating £45,000 to her cause via a crowdfunding campaign.
Nicole Elkabbas, 42, was found guilty by majority verdict of fraud by false representation and possession of criminal property at Canterbury Crown Court this afternoon, following a trial.
She had denied the offences, with her defence team arguing she believed she had cancer.
However, prosecutor Ben Irwin said Elkabbas' actions were 'utterly dishonest', and that she had duped people into donating money.
"It was a scheme designed to trick and to con and she knew it," Irwin said.
"So she lied about the major surgery, lied about six cycles of chemotherapy, lied about this wonder-drug - the breakthrough drug.
"She tricked people who gave her money and then she frittered it away."
Mum-of-one Elkabbas had set up the GoFundMe campaign in February 2017, claiming she had just weeks to raise money for major surgery in Spain, garnering more than £45,000 in donations from more than 600 people.
The convincing fundraiser even featured a photo of her appearing to lie in a hospital bed, which the court heard had actually been taken during routine gallbladder treatment several months earlier.
The prosecution said the donated money had in fact been used to fund shopping trips, holidays to Barcelona and Rome, gambling and a club box at Tottenham Hotspur football club.
The BBC reports that police began an investigation after a doctor - who had recently given her the all-clear - raised suspicions.
Oliver Kirk, defending Elkabbas, said she is a 'vulnerable' woman, who has a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer and has had cancer in her family - and genuinely believed she was unwell.
Judge Mark Weeks said she had been convicted on 'clear and compelling evidence' and that she should expect a custodial sentence.
GoFundMe has said all donations made to Elkabbas through the campaign had been refunded last year after misuse allegations were raised.
Following the verdict, a spokesperson for GoFundMe said: "All donations were refunded last year when the misuse allegations were raised.
"Misuse counts for less than one tenth of one per cent of all activity on GoFundMe and in the very rare case there is misuse - we refund donations. This means there is no risk whatsoever to donors.
"We're proud to have the world's only crowdfunding guarantee, where your money gets where it is supposed to go - or we will reimburse you."
Elkabbas has been released on bail, and is due to be sentenced on 5 February.
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