In the cat world, everyone knows at least one, if not ten, people who have sent money to someone claiming to have a Maine coon kitten. They never see their money or kitten. The feline fraud fighters will explain how to avoid scammers and identify a legitimate Maine coon breeder.
Things that ALL reputable Maine coon breeders Have/do:
Multiple social media accounts will feature the same cats in various photos and videos.
Breeders will frequently have many social media accounts with the same cattery name, and you will see the same cats in both current and previous posts.
People aren't allowed to visit the breeder's home, and no in-person meetings are permitted prior to the payment of a deposit and the day of pick up.
This may appear to be a red flag to most people, but what some do not realize is that there are numerous dangers associated with allowing strangers into your home, including the risk of home invasions and robbery, as well as the risk of introducing illnesses to cats and vulnerable kittens, which can result in death. Some breeders let individuals come inside their home to select a kitten, and other breeders do kitten pick-ups at their homes, but I believe they are the exception. I personally do not allow anyone to my home. More information on this can be found in the FAQ section of my website.
Video chat, FaceTime, and live feeds
When asked, all legitimate breeders will engage in some form of video chat. However, some may not do so until a deposit is paid for a kitten. Personally, I like to do live streaming on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook so that I don't have to work around the schedules of 8+ people and the videos may be rewatched.
There are a few well-known and new breeders that do not have websites, but the majority of breeders have websites with names that correspond to the cattery names they use on social media accounts. You should be able to locate all of the information you need about the breeder, their cats, and their cattery operations.
Maine coon kittens will always be priced between $2,000 and $5,000, with the average being $3,500 and varying by location.
Applications, contracts and deposits
Before placing a deposit on a kitten, a breeder will ask you to fill out an application or speak with you over the phone to learn more about you, your home life, and other factors to ensure you are a suitable fit for a kitten. If accepted, you will sign a contract with health guarantees and expectations from both the breeder and the buyer. Then you'll send a deposit. Sending money to breeders via Zelle or PayPal friends and family is a typical option; nevertheless, it has recently been claimed that only scammers use these methods, which is incorrect. Using Zelle or PayPal Friends and Family protects the breeder from chargebacks after the kitten is in their possession. Breeders have recently switched to Zelle because other platforms are against animal sales and will side with the buyer if they file a claim; even after receiving their kitten, they will receive their money back. This is not something I do, but expect deposits to be non-refundable.
Things that Maine coon scammers do:
Scammers have traditionally used Facebook, but they have now expanded to Instagram. Instead of using a legitimate cattery name, these scammers frequently create a Facebook page called "Maine coons for adoption" or something similar. I've seen that scammers are increasingly stealing family and personal Facebook photos from strangers in order to appear more genuine. A good rule of thumb is to never interact with any Maine coons for adoption pages, including those for persons looking for Maine coon kittens and instead seeking out breeders on their own pages.
Scammers have also invaded legitimate breeder pages, tagging everyone who comments a link to these Maine coon adoption pages; thankfully, breeders can block these comments, but those tagged still receive notifications.
Don't be deceived by the enormous following on some of these pages; they're crooks.
Scammers reel in their pray by an incredible price point usually under $1,000. If something appears too good to be true, it is.
No application or contract
Scammers will skip the application/contract and move right to a deposit, never asking you personal questions or getting to know you, and they will be persistent in requesting a deposit.