Michael De Rubeis scammed 38 New Jersey couples out of more than $140,000 dollars by posing as a professional wedding photographer. He is now facing six counts of theft by deception and six counts of impersonation. In a long running scam where he would dodge clients after the weddings, send substitute photographers to events, not deliver photographs, and when they were delivered they were usually bad.
I personally know of a photographer in my area that was running a similar scam. She showed up to the wedding dressed completely inappropriately. A second shooter was promised. Although she did bring a second photographer, he appeared to be about 15 years-old. The check was cashed but a close friend of mine didn't get her wedding photos for over six months. When they finally were delivered they weren't the quality she was promised. The same thing happened just months later to another acquaintance at the hands of this photographer. With such a huge pool of people claiming to be professionals, how do you protect yourself from such scams?
- Meet with the photographer in person. This seems like a no-brainer but you must meet with them in person before you book anything. There's nothing like meeting in person to judge if this is somebody you can work with on your special day.
- Meet with several photographers. This will allow you to see the differences in professionalism and style. If anyone is lacking, you'll notice it much quicker.
- Ask to see a portfolio of an entire wedding. If all you're seeing are a great shots of numerous different couples, that should be a red flag. If they're a professional they'll have quality images of an entire event from start to finish.
- Ask to meet with a former client. A simple phone call could just be part of the scam. If you can, ask to meet with a former client. Ask to look at their wedding album. Ask for reviews from several clients.
- Get it all in writing. What time will they show up? How many hours of coverage will you get for your event? When will the photos be ready? How much it will all cost? What exactly is included?
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