Edmonds Marshall McMahon in Successful private prosecution following “organised, sophisticated, and targeted’ fraud on cancer charity

R v Elijah Kellie and Others (2024)

On 31 May 2024, Elijah Kellie, Moses Kellie, Nadege Kehi, and Nobuhle Khanyile were sentenced before the Southwark Crown Court following an ‘organised, sophisticated, and targeted’[1] fraud, in which over 117 bank accounts were opened to defraud Macmillan’s cancer grant system. The Defendants used hundreds of aliases, telephone numbers, addresses as well as corporate and individual bank accounts to launder the proceeds of the fraud. The fraud involved hundreds of telephone calls purportedly by genuine applicants pretending to have various forms of terminal cancer, including terminal, prostate, throat, breast, ovarian, myeloma, skin and thyroid cancer. These were all lies.

The Facts

Macmillan is a cancer charity which provides specialist health care, physical, financial, and emotional support to people affected by cancer. One way in which Macmillan does is this is by offering one-off grants to help people who need immediate support with costs caused by, or related to, their cancer. During the Covid-19 pandemic, due to the difficulties in seeing doctors and nurses, Macmillan introduced a process by which grant funds could be given to cancer sufferers more quickly, due to the severe hardship they were suffering in being unable to see doctors and nurses.

In late-2022, Macmillan identified suspicious grants which suggested organised fraudsters were seeking to take advantage of new systems developed as a result of the Covid pandemic. Edmonds Marshall McMahon (“EMM”) were instructed in August 2022 and, with Macmillan’s Counter Fraud Team, undertook a complex and wide-ranging investigation. This revealed that an expanding group of individuals had targeted Macmillan’s grant system and made repeated fraudulent applications using aliases, email addresses, and bank accounts, in each case falsely claiming to have various forms of cancer and required grant funding.

During this investigation, EMM identified that five connected defendants were responsible for the fraud.

Criminal proceedings were commenced in November 2022 and the Court made Restraint Orders against each defendant. Whilst all defendants were charged with conspiracy to defraud Macmillan, shortly before trial, they each plead guilty to money laundering charges under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, which avoided a 6-week trial.

The Sentence

The Judge remarked that:

            “These defendants were involved in serious and organised money laundering; which was all the more surprising given that each defendant professes to be a person of faith.” “The consequences of these crimes are very significant for the charity and those who depend on the charity, namely the true victims and sufferers of cancer.”

On 31 May 2024, the Defendants were sentenced as follows:

  • Elijah Kellie “richly deserves to go to prison immediately”, however the balance was just tipped and was sentenced to 15 month’s imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, including 30 RAR days and 3 months curfew, that will be electronically monitored.
  • Moses Kellie received a community order for 18 months, with 150 hours unpaid work, and 15 RAR days.
  • Nadege Kehi received a 12-month community order, 100 hours unpaid work, and 5 RAR days.
  • Nobuhle Patience Khanyile – 12 months community order, 80 hours unpaid work, 20 RAR days.

The Judge formally commended the Macmillan investigator, Emily Hartley, who discovered and investigated the fraud, without which, this fraud may never have been identified.

Recovery of Macmillan funds

Macmillan also successfully recovered close to 100% of the stolen proceeds which will be used to provide the services and support to those who are affected by cancer, and to continue in its aim to ensure that no one faces cancer alone.

The case was prosecuted by Ashley Fairbrother and Andrew Marshall, Partners,  Nikos Keim, Senior Associate, and Oliver Fredrickson, Associate, all at EMM, and Dominic Hockley at Harcourt Buildings.

Bob Browell, Counter Fraud Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support comments:

“Frauds perpetrated against charities like Macmillan strike at the very essence of societal trust and altruism. The emotional toll of fraudulent activities reverberates long after the crime is uncovered, tarnishing the reputation of charities and eroding public confidence in charitable causes.”

I would like to credit the brilliant work of the team at Macmillan. The case represents the most complex and extensive investigation undertaken since the inception of Macmillan Cancer Support’s Counter Fraud Team.

Whilst balancing our ambition to quickly get money out to those who were suffering from cancer during a global pandemic, the team were able to notice anomalies in applications, which were immediately investigated further and with legal guidance, the perpetrators were quickly identified.

I am glad that today the individuals involved have been brought to justice.

As a result of this egregious breach of trust, Macmillan was forced to temporarily pause the payment of grants to all applicants. This meant that genuine applicants who were suffering from the devastating effects of cancer were unable to receive the assistance they deserved. In addition to this, the money that was stolen could have paid for hours of support by Macmillan nurses helping people’s spouses, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, and wider family who are suffering with cancer. They are the real victims. I am glad that our robust processes and systems have done their job, the stolen funds have been recovered and we can continue to support those that most need it.

We will not tolerate fraud and we will take action wherever we see it.”

Ashley Fairbrother, Partner at Edmonds Marshall McMahon, comments:

These defendants were convicted of laundering money that was stolen from a well-respected and deserving charity. The defendants exploited a system designed to provide crucial financial assistance to individuals battling cancer. They committed a heartless crime that diverted essential resources away from those who needed them most.

The message must go out to people who believe that charities are an easy target – they are not; these offences are serious, and the consequences are serious. Many people give their time and money to raise money for good causes, often because either they or some of their own families have experienced cancer.  The effort needed to raise that money is great, and the theft of the fruits of that effort is particularly egregious.

Private prosecutions are increasingly becoming the main vehicle of redress for charities, especially at a time when the Government is looking at new ways to combat fraud. That is why we feel it’s important to highlight the vital role private prosecutions play in the UK criminal justice system. We hope that this sends a clear message on behalf of charities to those that commit crimes against them, that they will not get away with it.”

[1] Sentencing Remarks of HHJ Hopmeier on 31 May 2025.

McMillan Cancer Fraud Prosecution