Maine Coons are loved for their stunning looks, gentle disposition and affectionate nature. Sadly, their expensive price tag also attracts scammers trying to make a quick buck.
If you are wondering how to avoid Maine Coon cat scams, you have come to the right place. Our 24 warning flags will help guide you through the process of buying a Maine Coon.
Avoid being caught out by Maine Coon kitten scams by watching out for key warning signals. Red flags include: requests for bank transfer outside your country of residence; seller has poor communication skills and creates a sense of urgency about purchasing kitten; last minute kitten swap; poor grammar/spellings; asking for additional delivery cost.
If you are currently looking for a Maine Coon of your own, chances are you have already seen some of the Maine Coon scams flooding the internet.
Whether you have seen the unscrupulous adverts yourself or have simply heard about them, you have made the right choice to educate yourself on the subject before spending your hard-earned cash.
There are several seemingly minor red flags to look for that are often vitally important signs of a surefire scammer. Keep reading to lessen your chances of being the victim of a kitten scam.
Maine Coon Cat Scams
The Maine Coon is a mysterious and intriguing cat breed from Maine.
Their true origin is shrouded in mystery and confusion so it is no wonder that many weird and wonderful legends have cropped up about where they truly came from.
Whether you believe Maine Coons come from the Siberian wilderness or were the offspring of the last French Queen, we can all agree they are incredibly popular, and VERY expensive.
The hefty price tag invites thievery and dishonesty.
Combining this with the increasing anxiety around the financial state of the world has turned the Maine Coon kitten market into a meeting place for scammers and fraudsters alike.
There are far too many Maine Coon cat scams to count on the internet these days. And, unfortunately, scammers are getting quite good at sneaking their postings onto even the most reputable websites.
While there are a depressing amount of shocking Maine Coon cat scams going around they almost all relate to the following four Maine Coon cat scam templates:
1. Impulse Purchase Scams
Impulse purchase scams are very simple.
Scammers prey on your desire to own a Maine Coon kitten, offering you an immediate option to buy the kitten of your dreams.
This scam doesn’t give the buyer time to think the transaction through carefully. Chances are the scammer will be long gone with your money before you even get a chance to stop and consider if the offer was too good to be true.
Any Maine Coon “breeder” (we use the word ‘breeder’ carefully in this instance) selling their kittens with a big “Buy Now” button are likely to be scammers. Or, at the very least, they are not breeders you should be supporting.
Legitimate Maine Coon breeders will always have more than a couple of questions for any potential buyer, before they hand over one of their kittens.
If it feels too easy to purchase from a particular seller it is more than likely a scam!
2. Climate Controlled Carrier Charge
The climate-controlled carrier charge is a convoluted sounding yet far too common Maine Coon cat scam that you must be aware of.
The story here goes that you have agreed to purchase your Maine Coon kitten, maybe even paid a small deposit.
Then, the seller finds out that the “airline” requires climate-controlled carriers and the seller is being charged for that. So they try to push that “charge” onto you. Sometimes, they might even try to include a fake travel insurance charge too!
None of these fees are real. The scammer is simply trying to prey on your good nature.
If you are unwilling to pay these unexpected additional charges, some scammers may even threaten you with animal abandonment or animal abuse charges!
If sudden extra charges start cropping up, it is a very good sign that the seller is a scammer. You should never agree to pay these excess fees.
Many people, however, fall into what is called the ‘sunk-cost-fallacy’. This is where the buyer has already sent the seller some money, so are worried that by backing out now they run the risk of losing the Maine Coon kitten they paid for.
Ultimately, it is always better to walk away, even if you have sent over some money. Better to lose a little money and learn a lesson than lose all of it (source 1,2).
3. Bait and Switch
The bait and switch is a scam as old as time itself. The concept is that you offer one thing and provide another.
This is something we see every day of our lives with retailers and supermarkets. But, it applies to Maine Coons too.
The scam tends to go as follows.
The seller is offering you a Maine Coon kitten, all is well, you have paid your deposit (maybe even the whole fee) and it will not be long now until your Maine Coon is on the way.
However, at the very last moment, the seller tells you that your Maine Coon has gotten sick! But not to worry, as the seller has another kitten you can have.
This is a scam that can play out in many different ways. For example, sometimes the seller will give you a regular kitten (that does not quite match the pictures you have seen online) and hope you do not notice right away.
Since Maine Coon kittens and regular kittens look an awful lot alike when they are quite young, buyers are often fooled into thinking they have purchased a purebred Maine Coon kitten.
4. Sob Stories
This type of scam is the most convincing.
Not because it is particularly clever or some kind of elite trickery. But, because inherently pet owners are just trying to welcome an animal into their home and include them within their family.
The sob story tends to go along the lines that the owner is having to sadly part ways with their new kitten or cat, due to “sudden allergies” or some other such reason.
They say that they are happy to give the cat away for free, but, you will have to pay the shipping costs.
Another trick scammers use is asking the buyer to pay for a sudden ‘unexpected’ trip to the vet before the kitten can come and live with you.
It is all very sad. It is all very manipulative. It is all completely untrue.
Warning Signs You Can Look For If You Are Buying A Maine Coon Kitten
Not every Maine Coon listing is a scam, and not every scam is an obvious one. Sometimes a posting may seem to be genuine, but there are some telltale signs to look out for.
Here 24 of the most common warning signs to look for if you are buying a Maine Coon kitten:
1. Foreign Payment Requests
Seller asks for payment to be made outside your country of residence.
A common method of scamming people is to scam people who do not live in your country. Can the US police catch a scammer operating out of Europe? Maybe, but not always.
All payments should be made within the jurisdiction of the country you live in.
2. Lack Of Pictures
The seller cannot provide many pictures of their kittens, nor do they show pictures of the kitten’s parents.
Lack of pictures is always a red flag. Especially a shortage of pictures of the kitten’s parents.
Just think, would you have a handful of kittens running around your home and fail to take more than a couple of blurry photos? No. Your phone would be full of photos!
If the seller cannot send you lots of pictures it is likely because they do not have any kittens.
3. Non-Refundable Deposit
The seller asks for a non-refundable deposit but then keeps asking for additional payments about the kitten.
A non-refundable deposit is not an abnormal request from breeders since there are plenty of time wasters out there, and they are simply protecting their interests.
However, after a small deposit is paid any additional payments are unnecessary. Requests for additional money should always prompt you to be more cautious.
4. Stock Photos
The seller uses stock photos.
Stock photos are a huge red flag. If you are looking at generic Maine Coon pictures, walk away right now.
Go to Google Images to check if the photos you are viewing are original, or stock photos.
5. Photo Background Changes
The background of the kitten’s photos always varies.
A good indicator that pictures of a kitten are legit is if you can see the same kittens, hopefully at different ages, in different settings. For example, in the kitchen, on the stairs, on the couch, with mom in the background, you get the idea.
Be aware, however, that multiple different backgrounds in a photo can also indicate stock photos since it is unlikely the breeder has limitless rooms to photograph their kittens within their home!
The same setting for all photos means there is a chance that someone is simply using stolen images.
6. Communication Via Text
A seller that only communicates via text, not email, or through social media, can be a red flag.
Most sellers have at least some kind of online presence and should be contactable through traceable means.
It is very easy to spoof a phone number.
7. Poor Grammar / Spelling Errors
The seller has poor grammar and multiple spelling errors within their listing.
Poor grammar and spelling are the hallmarks of a scammer. And, in some cases, it is intentional.
If you have ever seen those email scams that are SO obviously a scam that you cannot believe anyone would fall for them? That is because the scammer is trying to filter out all but the most gullible of people.
Bad spelling and bad grammar should scare you away.
If there is plagiarism of text within the sellers’ advert, this is a red flag.
Plagiarised adverts are normally the signs of a scammer. And a lazy one at that!
Run the advert through one of the many plagiarism checkers on Google, as a quick and easy way to filter out potential scammers.
9. No Phone Number
If a Maine Coon kitten posting has no phone number, simply an email address, and no link to any social media accounts, it is more than likely a scammer.
It is very easy to create a throw-away email address, scam someone, and then never use the address again.
10. No Physical Address
The seller has no physical address other than a broad “United States”, etc.
You cannot expect a breeder to list their home address on the kitten for sale advert, since they do not want random people turning up at their front door!
But, the seller can be a little more accurate on the post, and include their state, city or town, or a street name.
If there is no expanded address it is best to move on to a seller that does provide one.
11. No Video Calls
The seller refuses video calls.
Not everyone likes to jump on a video call with a complete stranger. But, when it comes to multi-thousand-dollar kittens, it is acceptable to expect the seller to let you see the kitten for yourself.
12. No Website
Not everyone will have a website, and some smaller sellers may not feel the need. But, the lack of a website should inspire caution in you.
Though, on its own, it is probably not a big enough reason to write off a seller altogether.
13. Private Domain
The sellers website domain registration is set to private.
A website domain registration is almost like the deed to a house. It says who owns it, how long they have owned it for, and in some cases how much they paid for it.
If a website tries to hide its domain registration it could be due to the owner of the website not wanting to be associated with it. A good sign that they may be operating unlawfully.
14. No Social Media Accounts
The breeder does not have any social media accounts.
Not everyone wants to be on Facebook or Instagram, etc. But, it is weird for someone to have NO social media accounts at all.
If the seller has zero social media presence, or their account has next to no friends or followers, then that can be a pretty big red flag.
However, before ruling these sellers out, remember that some people just do not like social media! Older breeders in particular may prefer to sell their kittens through word of mouth or by posting on established marketplaces.
15. Too Many Litters
The seller seems to have too many Maine Coon kitten litters a year.
Even the biggest breeders tend to only have a handful of litters a year. More litters than this are too much work and often result in kittens who have not received the love and attention they need to be properly socialized.
It is normal for a Maine Coon cat breeder to have 1-2 litters a year. Be extra cautious if the seller has more litters than this each year.
16. Too Cheap
One of the clearest warning flags is that the kitten price is too cheap. This falls under the umbrella of ‘too good to be true’.
If the kitten is too cheap, chances are the seller is hoping to cause you to impulse buy, and only after purchasing will you realize it was a scam.
The average Maine Coon kitten costs between $1000-$2500. Anything less than this should cause alarm bells to start ringing.
17. Buy It Now
The seller has a ‘BUY IT NOW’ button on their website.
No respectable seller will have any sort of “Buy Now” button on their website. This is always a scam.
And if by some miracle it is not a scam, these are not breeders you should be supporting.
18. Sense Of Urgency
The seller creates a sense of urgency in the sale.
If the seller tries to incite a panic, “ONLY ONE KITTEN LEFT”, or offers some kind of Maine Coon flash sale, walk away QUICKLY!
This is not only an unethical business practice, it is also a surefire sign of a scammer in action.
19. Seller Irritated By Questions
If the seller becomes irritated when you ask lots of questions, they are potentially a scammer.
Asking questions is a great method to suss-out genuine breeders vs scammers, so ask as many questions as you can!
Genuine breeders will almost always be grateful that the potential new owner of their precious kittens is trying to be so well informed and cares so much about the kitten’s upbringing.
By comparison scammers do not want to chat with you, they only want your money.
20. Only A Facebook Page
If a seller has no Facebook page, that can be a red flag. However, if a seller ONLY has a Facebook page that can also be equally concerning. You must use your common sense and trust your gut when it comes to Facebook.
A big following of real people is a good indicator that a seller may be genuine.
Scroll through their page and look for regular communication from the seller on their posts, with the Facebook page readers. Engaging with their audience gives authenticity to the seller.
21. Incorrect Cat Organizations
If a seller claims membership with an incorrect cat organization, instead of TICA or CFA, this can be the sign of a lazy scammer.
22. Breeder Not Registered
The breeder is not registered with TICA, CFF, CFA, or ACFA.
If a breeder is not registered with any of these organizations it can massively reduce their validity.
Most reputable breeders are associated with one of, or even all of, the mentioned associations.
23. Poor Communication
The seller is a poor communicator.
Bad grammar, poor communication, sporadic responses, or outright unintelligible messages are good signs that you should stay away from the seller.
Even if they are not a scammer, an inability to properly communicate is a major issue when so much money is at risk.
24. Too Good To Be True
Everything feels too good to be true.
Finally, and most importantly, you have got to trust your gut. If you ever get the feeling that a seller is ‘off’, or what they are offering is ‘too good to be true’, walk away.
Learning to walk away when something doesn’t feel right is a vital life skill that applies very strongly to buying anything, that includes wonderful fluffy Maine Coons.
What Can You Do If You Are Scammed?
The moment you realize you have been scammed is awful. Your stomach drops, you feel stupid and naive, and it can be a very upsetting experience.
You are left wondering what you can do.
Well, first things first, you need to be calm and collected for the following steps:
First, you need to tell someone straight away.
Who you should tell depends greatly on how long ago the scam took place. If it was within the last few days, the first person to call might be your bank.
Depending on how you paid for your “fake Maine Coon kitten” they may be able to help you get your money back.
At the very least, they can help you inform the police.
Secondly, yes, you do need to speak to the police.
This does not have to be an in-person visit as most local police forces have forms you can fill in online.
The police will often escalate your issue to the right department (including the FBI in some cases).
You can report all instances of fraud or scams to the government.
This link explains in detail how to contact the correct department depending on the type of scam you experienced.
Once the authorities know what has happened, to an extent, things are out of your hands.
You can report pet scammers to the IPATA which has a detailed database of scammers and they actively work to catch them.
It is always a good idea to contact whoever hosted the advertisement whether it be a website, Facebook, etc, and let them know that a scammer is operating on their platform.
Hopefully, you are now feeling well educated and confident on the subject of how to avoid Maine Coon cat scams!
Sadly, this will always be an issue when it comes to Maine Coons. Scammers abuse good-natured people who simply want a Maine Coon of their own to love.
Pet scammers have always been around, however, since Maine Coons are in so much demand and are quite pricey they are the animal of choice for scammers to target.
You now have a good idea of the sort of scams that these awful people operate as well as know all of the red flags to look out for!
Good luck on your quest to purchase your very own Maine Coon from legit Maine Coon breeders.
And remember, always trust your gut instinct, if a seller feels off it is better to forget them and move on.
How To Find Out If Your Cat Is A Maine Coon
Maine Coon cats weigh between 8 – 25 lbs, have tufted feet, bushy tails, and a thick mane around their neck. They often have lynx tips, big paws and oblique shaped eyes.