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Some villains flip foreclosed houses — one Prospect Heights lady allegedly flips pets.
Louise Holmes thought she had found the perfect candidate on Craigslist to adopt two of her four adorable gray kittens, Pippi and Denver.
But as it turned out, the woman, who said her name was “Unique,” was only looking to make a quick buck by turning around and selling the free felines in a classic cat scam.
“I was just so angry that I could not believe it,” Holmes said.
The flummoxed feline fan said that Unique put on the perfect act: she seemed smitten with the little cats, cuddling and caressing them, and leading Holmes to believe that the kitties were going to a good home.
There was just one requirement: “I gave very clear instructions that if she changed her mind and didn’t want the kittens, I wanted them back,” said Holmes, who lives in Park Slope.
It became clear within days that the agreement had been broken, thanks to an e-mail that Holmes received from another woman, who had discovered an ad on Craigslist selling the kittens that, like Holmes, she had just given away for free.
Holmes wondered if the same thing had happened to her, but she dismissed the thought: “It couldn’t possibly be true!” she said. “[Unique] was so excited to have the kittens! She said she had grown up with cats!”
The other woman, Kim Eisenbach, said she was the victim of an almost identical scam at the hands of “Unique” (though that time, she used a different name.)
“I saw my three kittens on Craigslist that I had just given away and I became hysterical, crying — I was a mess,” said Eisenbach, who lives in Greenpoint.
Eisenbach added that she had made it her mission to alert people giving away pets in Brooklyn that there was an opportunistic thief looking to flip felines.
Holmes was incredulous, but did research — something she kicked herself for not doing before the adoption — and discovered that Unique’s phone number appeared on several other postings for cats for sale.
On top of that, Unique appeared to be using at least three other names.
“Two male kittens both five weeks old, very friendly, litter trained and eating soft food, both are orange and white,” read one post.
“I have two adorable kittens left out of a litter of six, they’re six weeks old. One is mostly white with some spots. The other is white also, with mostly black on back,” read another.
“$350, ragdoll kittens” read yet another.
Holmes managed to reach Unique — whose last name is being withheld because she did not return phone calls to the three numbers she had provided to her “victims” — who admitted that she had sold Pippi and Denver for $50 each, but would not pass along the contact information for the felines’ new owner.
“I just decide to find them homes,” Unique wrote in a typo-riddled e-mail provided by Holmes. “You still gave them away to me for free, no contract, once in my hand their [sic] initially mines. That means if I wanted to give them to my nieces, stranger walking the street, dad, or grandmother thats initially on me. ... I’m not gonna sit here going back and fourth with you, then get excited and have an asthma attack.”
Unique added that she wouldn’t have let Holmes take her picture — the one on this page — if she was running a scam.
That left Holmes in the unenviable position of wondering whether the woman who scammed her out of her cats was at least being honest that they had gone to a good home.
Still, she couldn’t help but fear the worst: that the kittens had been swept by a “buncher” — an underground pet-gatherer who takes advantage of “free to a good home” animal giveaways and then passes the pets on to laboratories for animal testing.
Holmes also said she learned a tough lesson that is endorsed by animal rescue organizations: charge an adoption fee, and at the very least have some sort of adoption agreement in writing.
“I know people are hard up for money because of the economy,” said Holmes, who even offered $75 for the return of each of her kittens. “But that doesn’t excuse the lies and misrepresentations.”
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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