A CATTERY owner who beat breast cancer has slammed ‘spiteful, malicious individuals’ who sent emails telling patients they could have cancer.
Police are investigating after the imposters, who claimed to be from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), sent the messages to East Staffordshire patients.
They were given the subject line ‘important blood analysis result’ and claimed recipients’ white blood cell counts were low, leading to a ‘suspicion of cancer’.
It is thought the scammers were trying to obtain password information from their victims’ email accounts.
Maria Greasley, owner of Dove Flatts Cattery, in Rocester, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 but has subsequently beaten the disease.
She said: “As someone who’s had that terrible news, I can’t imagine the damage these people have caused.
“Patients have received an email from what they think is a respected organisation and it must be absolutely devastating.
“The offenders are spiteful, malicious individuals with no morals, only concerned with what they can gain and not how their reprehensible actions are affecting others.
“When you get that news, you just think of the worst possible scenarios and your mind goes into overdrive.
“Logically, you’d never get that kind of news in an email but those words make all kind of common sense go out of the window.
“The worst thing about it is the thought of telling your family.
“When I was diagnosed, my daughter was abroad. You’re the one dealing with the disease but your family is helpless and can only watch you go through it.”
Ms Greasley, 55, was successfully treated for her illness and is in remission, but she told the Advertiser the threat of cancer returning is ‘always in the back of her mind’.
She said: “I went for a check-up on Monday and I’ll be seeing my consultant today.
“I haven’t been given the all-clear yet, which doesn’t happen until five years of being free from cancer.
“I’m just on medication, which I’ll be on for another three years.
“It’s always in the back of your mind and never really goes away.
“You just have to get on with things and, luckily, I’m a positive person, so that’s what I do.
“But my heart goes out to the recipients of these emails, particularly those who have suffered from cancer in the past.”
Charles Pidsley, chairman of East Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group has urged patients to ignore and delete the emails.
He said: “All scams like this are malicious. They could be very upsetting for the people receiving them, especially if they are feeling vulnerable or have had a blood test.”
“I would like to reassure patients that this is not from NICE.
“Information of this nature would never be shared in this manner.”