Searching for a genuine Maine Coon (MCO) breeder can be a challenging task, as the popularity of the breed has led to a rise in scams and unethical breeding practices. Below is a detailed outline of potential scams and warning signs to watch out for when looking for an MCO breeder:
1. Fake Websites and Photos
Stock Photos: Scammers may use stock photos or pictures stolen from legitimate breeders' websites to showcase "their" cats.
Too Good to Be True Pricing: Extremely low prices can be a bait to lure potential buyers. These large animals are expensive to raise and keep healthy. Please do your research into the cost requirements the breeder you're looking into inquires per litter.
Suspicious URLs: Websites with strange domain extensions or misspelled words related to Maine Coons.
Multiple cats with varying backgrounds: Breeders will use different blankets and backgrounds with their photo boxes to help put emphasis on the cats coat color. Knowing this fact: scammers will use a lot of different cats with a lot of different backgrounds. There will be a HUGE selection of felines and that's just not reality in a good husbandry program.
Request for Upfront Payment: Scammers might ask for a deposit or full payment with the slight feeling you are being rushed, especially using non-refundable means like wire transfers, and they know the more time they spend with you the higher chance you have at finding out their game.
Additional Hidden Costs: Post-payment, they might request more money for unexpected shipping costs, veterinary bills, or other fees or tell you that you cannot have your cat until you pay these fees.
Card: No real breeder will ever request a deposits or payments in the form of a "Gift Card"!!!!
Sending you a fake "cashiers check" to be deposited into your account and then they request half goes to the courier (This is NOT how breeders use couriers). Please understand the ease of recreating a cashiers check, google the process. It's incredibly easy for scammers to create a cashiers check and for your bank to approve it only to notice a few weeks later when the bank understands no money actually came in from any location. You are then the only one responsible for the outcome of that situation. It's quite difficult to chase down scammers in Cameroon and India "these are the 2 most popular countries for scamming in which I've personally come across".
Fake Inquiries: Emails or messages claiming to offer Maine Coons for a great price, attempting to extract personal or financial details.
Attachments and Links: Messages that contain suspicious links or attachments which might contain malware. Never click on a link!
5. Unethical Breeding Practices
Over-breeding: Some breeders might be more interested in profits, leading them to over-breed their cats, a female should never be subject to more than 5 MAXIMUM litters in her lifetime.
Poor Living Conditions: Kittens might be kept in unhygienic conditions, which can lead to health issues.
No Medical Information: Testing done on any of the felines as well as no vaccine documentation for kittens or parents.
Counterfeit Documentation: Scammers might produce fake pedigree papers to make it seem like their kittens are purebred. Vet documents can also be faked if they are also getting something out of it. Not every vet or doctor does this line of work for love and empathy, so be mindful when verifying the information. Double check to see if anyone has had a similar issue or if anyone has ever had issues with the veterinarian service.
No Registration: Claiming that the kitten is purebred but not offering any registration with recognized cat associations. Or only registered parents while not bothering to register the kittens or request additional cost for registration outside of what you have already paid for said individual kitten.
Third-party Sellers: Individuals claim to be intermediaries between the buyer and a breeder, charging exorbitant fees and potentially delivering a different cat or none at all.
Fake references: Individuals claiming to have received a cat from said "breeder", although they are getting a cut of the money used to scam you. "ALWAYS FACE-TIME THE BREEDER"
Non-existent Shipping Companies: Scammers may ask victims to pay using fake shipping company details.
Last-minute Delays: Continuous delays with requests for more money to resolve fabricated issues.
Extortion: The shipper is a scammer and withholds your kitten threatening harm or otherwise until you pay an excess fee.
Random Fee: You have already paid in full for shipping and the cat, but now magically the shipper has encountered a magical problem in their own personal life that you as the buyer are responsible for.
9. Refusal for In-Person or Face-time to see the kittens.
Scammers might continuously make excuses to prevent potential buyers from visiting their cattery or seeing the kittens in person.
Many Scammers cannot provide live feed of the felines as they don't have them.
Please remember, some breeders do not allow random visitation due to serious reasons including but not limited to; You unknowingly bringing in something on the bottom of your shoes. Them personally having a serious medical condition or weak immune system. Accidentally harming or being harmed by the feline resulting in a hospital visit, just as well, for some breeders personal protection is their aim as there have been current police reports from breeders that have been held at gunpoint for their cats, please feel free to google these reports for more information.
Example: If they have 2 queens, you should expect 2-3 litters a year between those two provided they are doing great and recovering well.
Tips to Avoid Falling for Scams:
Do Your Research: Always research the breeder's reputation, read reviews, and ask for recommendations. "Remember people can buy reviews, make sure the reviews are not fake".
Visit in Person: Whenever possible, visit the breeder's facility in person to see the conditions and meet the kittens. If you are unable to visit for any reason (either you or by the breeders request) Face Time and Google Meets is the perfect way to see the home the kittens are in and their living arrangements.
Ask for References: A reputable breeder will have no issue providing references from previous buyers.
Check Affiliations: Genuine breeders often register with cat breeding associations such as TICA, CFA, WCF, FiFe, please remember just because they are a registered breeder, does not make them a good one.
Avoid Strange Money Transfers: Stick to secure payment methods.
Reverse image search: If you see an image really close to the one you are given, follow the trail. Reach out to a similar breeder if you don't see the exact cats image but something really close. Most amazing breeders will immediately be able to tell if that came from them or not even if it was years ago.
In conclusion, while the internet provides an easy platform for scammers to prey on unsuspecting individuals, it's essential to approach the process of finding a genuine Maine Coon breeder with caution, due diligence, and thorough research.
I myself as a breeder have also been scammed, however, this happened a few years back before we started to hate one another: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1678002668913397/?multi_permalinks=3964908450222796¬if_id=1624389689674361¬if_t=feedback_reaction_generic&ref=notif
Below are some handy links to help yourself and others keep track of bad situations or breeders: If you don't trust my links please feel free to search yourself for "Scam groups"