Oak Ridge family’s trip to Georgia for cat turns out to be online scam

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you’re a cat lover, and millions of people are, you may go to any length to buy that perfect kitten.

That’s what a young family from Oak Ridge did. When they found an exotic Maine Coon breed of cat on the internet, they started corresponding with the so-called breeder; however, when the family traveled a long way to pick up the kitten, they were met with disappointment.

They shared how they were let down because the person they were dealing with turned out to be a scammer.

They discovered this after driving from East Tennessee to a small town in South Georgia.

Fortunately, no money was exchanged before the trip and the family learned a valuable lesson.

The supposed 12-week-old kitten was going to be Louise Archer’s birthday present. She received several videos of the kitty named “Blue.” She was described as a Maine Coon cat considered one of the better known exotic cat breeds. Louise found Blue online at a site called excellentmainecoons.com

“And I fell in love with the cat named Blue and I emailed the guy,” Louise Archer said. Louise was sent a bill of sale — the man selling the cat called himself Terrence Bullard.

“This is a beautiful, beautiful breed. They’re one of the biggest breeds of domestic cats you can get. But they are calm, they’re patient. They’re kind of like a big fluffy dog that meows,” she said.

The price? $750.00.

Bullard wanted her to pay either by Western Union or gift cards — she said, no way!

“I told him, I said listen, I want this cat. I will give you the money, I will sign any forms you have to sign when I see this cat. Until then there will be no money heading your way,” she said.

But Blue’s home was in Tifton, Ga. From Oak Ridge, that’s a 400-mile trip. Louise really wanted Blue from Terrence Bullard.

When the Archer clan got to Tifton, Ga. they immediately went to the house listed on the bill of sale, and surprised the home’s owner.

“And when we rang the poor guy’s doorbell, he had no clue that there was someone who was supposed to be at his address selling cats,” she said.

Here are some of the warning signs to alert you of a scammer like this:

  • Examine the video or pictures closely
  • Photos of the kitten you want may have different color eyes or may look physically different.
  • Scammers use random pictures of kittens that do not belong to them.
  • If the breeder asks for payment by Western Union or money card, step away.

The other day, Louise and her children went to Young-Williams Animal Center in Knoxville where they adopted a kitty named “Sky Blue.” They paid a $25 adoption fee and traveled about 25 miles to pick the feline up.

There are many legitimate websites advertising Maine Coons and there are quite a few phony websites advertising the breed as well. A scammer’s main focus will be convincing you to pay as soon as possible either through Western Union or with a pre-paid gift card.

It’s always better to check out the website first for red flags before you contact the breeder.

Remember, on these scam sites, they’ll steal pictures from legitimate breeders. If possible, try to deal with a local breeder.

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