Wedding Photographer Scams Clients out of $140,000

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.

cbs news new jersey de rubeis

DeRubeis, 52, was arrested in April.

de rubeis distasio scam

DeRubeis’ former studio in Little Falls, NJ.

“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’ 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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6 responses to “Wedding Photographer Scams Clients out of $140,000”

  1. It’s saddening and frustrating to hear of people like this. I am a wedding photographer, it’s hard enough getting clients, but to treat them like this? Shameful. Makes us all seem like con artists.

    If any of his brides that got screwed over want to come to sunny Florida, I’ll do a free “Romance Session” for you. Get in that dress, get him in that tux (or suit) and lets have some fun. Sorry if I sound like an ad, not my intent, just would rather help these brides than sit by and do nothing!


  2. tuffsheet says:

    I guess he was smart enough NOT to do a mafioso wedding!

  3. Charlene says:

    Interesting article. When my step-son and his wife were married, they hired a photographer who did indeed take their wedding and reception photos, but when we, the parents, ordered reprints for our own album, we never received them. And yes, the order was prepaid. Unfortunately, taking the matter to a lawyer would have set us back far more than the photos cost, and so we sucked up the loss. The newlyweds copied a few of their favorite photos copied and put in a small album for us so we would have a remembrance, but it still angers me that this man stole our money and our memories of the day. Hopefully the guy in this article won’t be given another chance to scam more unsuspecting couples.

  4. 7LeagueBoots says:

    So, what did he do? Just saying that “he scammed” wedding couples and leaving it at that does not constitute journalism in my book.

    • Rebecca Bennett says:

      Please note that later on in that same paragraph, it says that “DeRubeis performed poor-quality work, or in many cases, never delivered any wedding photographs at all.”

  5. Mark says:


    this guy was my “photographer.” the day when we picked up our DVD proof and gave him the final payment, he said he was going to get the online album all together and to make an appointment to finalize everything.. 2 years later; still waiting on thank you cards, no rough video of my wedding, no albums, no 14×14 picture, NOTHING. I’ve been tailing this guy since, never returns my calls, his voicemail box is always full, never at the studio, ignoring emails, whole run around. Enough is enough, i want my stuff and over with already.

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