At weddings, no guest is perhaps more valued than the photographer. Charged with capturing priceless, fleeting moments of a once-in-a-lifetime event, wedding photographers had better deliver. In Little Falls, New Jersey, however, one wedding photographer has proven to be interested in only one thing: money.
Operating under the alias Michael Distasio, a photographer named Michael DeRubeis has been arrested and accused of scamming 38 couples out of $140,000—and the numbers continue to rise as more couples come forward claiming that DeRubeis performed poor-quality work, or in many cases, never delivered any wedding photographs at all. In this video, CBS New York covers the story and speaks with two devastated victims:
Shockingly, this is not the first time that DeRubeis has been charged with fraud. In 2003, Eliot Spitzer, New York’s Attorney General at the time, sued DeRubeis for ripping off at least 60 clients in similar fashion.
Through the years, DeRubeis repeatedly changed the name of his photography business, using names such as Jonathan Michael Fine Art Photography, Creative Photography and Video, and Impressive Images. DeRubeis filed for bankruptcy in New York to avoid the 2003 charges and shortly thereafter moved to New Jersey, where he immediately opened another studio and began scamming unsuspecting couples again.
“The actions of this wedding photographer have turned the hopes and dreams of dozens of couples into a nightmare of broken promises,” said Spitzer in 2003.
Currently, DeRubeis faces six counts of theft by deception and six counts of impersonation, with more charges forthcoming.
On the brighter side, DeRubeis’ weddingwire.com profile has deservedly been decimated by angry reviewers. He sports a mere 1.8-star rating, with many of his victims crying wolf.
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