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Subject 31: What Constitutes Fraud?

Subject: The Lies, Deceit & Fraud Behind Big Cat Rescue
Sources: Animal Finder's Guide, WOES Safari Guide, 1995 Articles of Incorporation, USDA Acquisition Forms, Fundraising Success magazine, BayNews9 Investigation, WTSP's Mike Deeson

What Constitutes Fraud?

1. Carole Lewis Baskin claims to have become a rescue in 1992 with the purchase of her first bobcat kitten, Windsong, from an auction. Windsong was then used as a breeder and her kittens advertised for sale through the Animal Finder's Guide. Baskin actually incorporated as a breeder in 1995 and bred and sold exotic cats for eight (8) years. Unless you believe that cats you buy and breed are 'rescues' then you must agree that this is a lie, that Windsong was not a rescue, that Big Cat Rescue was not a rescue, and that Carole Lewis Baskin is deceiving the public for the purpose of donations. This is fraud.

2. Carole Lewis Baskin claims she became a sanctuary in 1993 with the 'rescue' of 56 bobcats kittens from a fur farm. These kittens were purchased, many were sold at a profit, and others were bred and their kittens sold through the Animal Finder's Guide. Unless you believe that you 'rescue' bobcat kittens to sell or to breed them and sell their kittens, then you must agree that this is a lie, that these kittens were not rescues, that Big Cat Rescue was not a sanctuary, and that Carole Lewis Baskin is deceiving the public for the purpose of donations. You can not ethically claim to be a rescue or a sanctuary in 1992/1993 and incorporate as a breeder in 1995. This is fraud: view more >>.

3. Carole Lewis Baskin admits in her Wildlife on Easy Street Safari Guide that all but a few of the original 144 cats were purchased, yet she claims that Big Cat Rescue is dedicated soley to abused and abandoned cats. Unless you believe that buying (or breeding) 144 cats is 'rescue' or that her former pets and breeders, most purchased as kittens, were abused or abandoned by her, then you must agree that these statements are lies and Carole Lewis Baskin is deceiving the public for the purpose of donations. This is fraud.

4. Carole's third husband, Howard Baskin, is quoted in a fund-raising magazine as saying that, "A few cats of other species were purchased in those early days, and there was a limited amount of breeding." In Carole's WOES Safari Guide, she admits that she had to buy "all but a few" of 144 cats she began her "sanctuary" with. Upon examining the USDA acquisition forms and The Wildlife On Easy Street Safari Guide we uncovered 170 cats bought, sold, bred, traded, declawed, and exploited, and we haven't finished counting. Unless you believe that these numbers constitute "a few cats bought and limited breeding" then you must agree that this statement is a lie and the Baskins are deceiving the public for the purpose of donations. This is fraud.

Read Fund Raising Success Magazine Article Online Now >>

5. Carole Lewis Baskin has always blamed all the buying and breeding of the cats on her missing millionaire second husband, Don Lewis, and claims that all buying and breeding stopped when he 'disappeared' in 1997. When proof was produced of cats bought, bred, declawed or pimped out to cabin guests as late as 2001, Carole subsequently admitted in a phone call in 2011 to Investigative reporter Mike Deeson of WTSP, one of the best-performing CBS affiliates in the country, that no cats had been bought or born at BCR for 10 years...2001 not 1997, just as we have reported.  Unless you believe that a dead man was responsible for buying and breeding cats for four (4) years after disappearing, then you must agree that this a lie and Carole Lewis Baskin is deceiving the public for the purpose of donations. This is fraud.

View Story on Bay News 9 Now >>

View Story on WTSP Now >>

6. Carole Lewis Baskin has always bragged that she is the largest "accredited" sanctuary for big cats. True sanctuaries, accredited or not, do not participate in any type of commercial activity such as exhibiting (or as Baskin calls it, exploiting) their cats to the public for money. If you believe that over 26,000 visitors a year, traipsing through a highly advertised tourist attraction portrayed as a big cat rescue, on day tours, night tours, feed the cats tours, keepers tours, kids tours, private tours, and even weddings, parties, and other events is not commercial activity, then you are as lacking in morals, principles, and integrity just like Carole Lewis Baskin.

Baskin has often been quoted as saying all of your donations go to support the cats, yet last year's Charity Navigator's financial statement shows cat care lumped in with "program expenses" making it impossible to know exactly how much was actually spent on caring for the cats. There was $136,177 spent on administrative costs ($85,310 of this in salaries to her daughter and husband), and $95,563 in fundraising costs. The excess for the year was $882,355 and she shows $4,865,981 in assets, yet she begs donations at every opportunity, claiming she needs the money to care for the cats. 

Income Statement (FYE 12/2010)

Revenue Note: This organization receives $0 in government support.
Primary Revenue
Other Revenue
Total Revenue
Program Expenses
Administrative Expenses
Fundraising Expenses
Total Functional Expenses
Payments to Affiliates
Excess  for the year
Net Assets

This is not about Carole Lewis Baskin's past. This is about the lies that she still tells today to deceive the donating public. That she has actually rescued some cats since being exposed does not negate the lies about the 144 she started with being rescues, does not excuse making up stories of their abuse and neglect and does not allow her to blame "the pet trade" for her mistakes. 

How many people would knowingly donate their money for cats that were bought, bred, declawed, and exploited as cabin cats, magazine models and tour exhibits if they knew the truth...that these same cats are the very ones she exhibits today as abused, abandoned, and victims of the pet trade?  This fraud hurts legitimate sanctuaries and responsible private owners of exotics animals everywhere. It's time someone did something about it. 

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