Scammers sold a 'Maine Coon kitten' who died after three days and cost £900

NEWS AND VIEWS - ENGLAND: The title is bad enough but, on my judgement, the kitten wasn't a Maine Coon in any case. This was a multi-scam: a very unhealthy kitten was sold to a woman who bought her for her autistic 10-year-old son, Bryn Stutley, and the kitten was not a Maine Coon cat as described by the scammy seller.

Note: this is a good instructional story for would be Maine Coon adopters. A very important lesson actually.

The scammers are a former police officer, Amy Byrne and Harry Angell. I feel compelled to make a comment. It is ironic that the scammer is a former police officer. That tells me that the police service in the UK is employing the wrong sort of applicants to be police officers. In fact, this has been admitted by the Metropolitan Police chief but that is another topic.

The kitten was named Lokie by the purchaser who is Yolanda, 45. She bought the kitten from a seller called 'Semeena' as reported by the Mail Online. 

The seller assured Yolanda that the kitten was micro-chipped, vaccinated and that they would get all the paperwork they needed which should have included a certificate of pedigree to confirm that the kitten was indeed a purebred cat.

Bryn Stutley, with his Maine coon kitten Lokie, who died after three days and cost £900
Bryn Stutley, with his Maine coon kitten Lokie, who died after three days and cost £900. Image: Daily Mail (Mail Online).

The seller, Amy Byrne, delivered the kitten to Yolanda at her Hampshire home in May 2021. She told Yolanda that she had forgotten the paperwork but would post it later. Yolanda immediately felt that something was wrong. She was correct. The kitten was deposited at her home and Amy Byrne rapidly departed before ensuring that Yolanda had made the bank transfer of £900!

Sickly Lokie who was not a Maine Coon kitten
Sickly Lokie who was not a Maine Coon kitten. A multiple scam. Image: Mail Online.

Soon afterwards Yolanda discovered that the so-called 'Maine Coon kitten' was emaciated and smelled badly because she was soiled with her own faeces. She took Lokie to her veterinarian who told her that the kitten was severely malnourished and probably had a gut infection. They prescribed antibiotics.

Despite the treatment Lokie died three days later. Bryn was obviously very upset. He had written a letter to the seller to express his gratitude and the happiness that the kitten would bring him. Domestic animals are very good for autistic kids. They can learn a lot from them. They can take responsibility and they can often connect better with animals and they can with humans.

As is normal with scammers, once they've got the money, they disappear off the radar. Amy Byrne was not answering the phone. The name 'Semeena' was one of many aliases that she'd used.

Ultimately, she was prosecuted in the criminal courts and it was discovered that her scam was worth nearly £300,000 with the scamming couple using up to 33 different names. They sold dozens of kittens to buyers paying up to £1,500 a time for so-called pedigree cats but they weren't pedigree and they were unhealthy.

The lesson of this story is that when people buy any purebred cat, and particularly nowadays Maine Coon cats because they're so popular, is to be extremely cautious.

Possible online Maine Coon seller scams

How can I be sure I am buying from a reputable Maine Coon breeder?

The basic M.O. is to visit the breeder to check out the facilities and to meet the cats first. And also, to read up about the breed before you buy to ensure that you know what they're meant to look like. 

When you visit the breeder, you need to ask for documentary evidence of the pedigree of the cats. See the paperwork then. If it can't be produced, walk. 

Do some gentle probing with polite questioning. Only then can you ensure that you are not scammed. If the seller doesn't like it: walk. Be tough because this is about the life of a cat and a lifetime of cat care.

The scam occurred in the UK. It could have happened anywhere.


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