Wedding Photographer Scams Clients Out Of $140,000
Michael De Rubeis, AKA Michael J. Distasio Photography, never heard the timeless advice “under promise -over deliver.” Or maybe he may have completely misinterpreted the saying and ran with it. Mr. De Rubeis made a living out of scamming couples on their wedding day, which is probably one of the worst things you could do to someone. The Passaic County, N.J.police department says there are at least 70 couples who paid the Walden photographer thousands of dollars for photos and albums they never received.
To add to this, a Hudson Valley News 12 report claims that De Rebeis was banned over a decade ago from working in New York for the exact same thing. I am sincerely shocked that this could have happened for so long in an age where there are so many 3rd party review sites online. But I guess it also reports that he kept changing the name of his photography business. It appears, from most of the reports I’ve read, that Michael was actually photographing the wedding, just never delivering any of the final photographs to the clients. I’ve found his Wedding Wire page, which is still up, and here are some reviews that I easily found on Wedding Wire after searching “Michael J. Distasio Photography” (They are direct pulls, so please pardon any misspellings or grammar errors):
0 out of 5
“My fiancé and I booked Michael Distasio for our July wedding. Prior to booking us, Michael was very accommodating and responsive. That soon changed. We scheduled our engagement session with Michael in NYC. He showed up to the shoot with his wife and daughter dressed unprofessionally and without his glasses. We spent most of the session walking around from place to place, not posing. As far as the pictures, they were armature, point and shoot. Michael did not suggest any creative poses or shoot from various angles. Michael is difficult to get in touch with and does not return phone calls or emails. Do not use this “photographer”.
.8 out of 5
“I would like to share my experience with everyone because I would HATE for anyone to go through what I have been going through. It has been over 2 months since my wedding and still have not received my thank you cards yet. Everytime I speak with Michael and his wife, they come up with another excuse as to why I have not received my thank you cards. I will admit that they were on time on the day of my wedding; however I will admit that alot of very important pictures were NOT taken: picture of the ice sculpture, picture of the bride and groom with the in-laws, and pictures of the bride and groom’s wedding bands! At this point in time, I am wondering if I will ever receive my thank you cards, wedding album, and videos. Please take this into consideration because it might happen to you and it is an awful feeling and it should not be this way at all. Lastly, I paid over$ 5,000 for these services and have not received ANYTHING!!”
2.2 out of 5
“Ehhhh not that great, Michael himself didn’t even come he sent two ladies one which was his wife she was nice and then a pregnant girl that was complaining about walking around to much, stairs etc. We were going to Verona Park they hit a traffic light ended up going to the wrong side by the time they made it our way we only had time for literally 3 pictures…super disappointing. I hope the albums are nice”
1.8 out of 5
“I will begin by saying that it is now Febraury (almost a year later) and I still dont have my album, despite their contract timeline. They have made every excuse in the book as to why I don’t have it, from personal family issues to professional equipment issues. I have asked for my money back many times, and everytime I do they annouce that they are about finished and that I will have my album ASAP. Then that deadline passess and we are playing phonetag/email tag/text message tag for the next week. This has been the worse experience I have ever encountered with a vendor, and quite frankly it was the worse experience during my wedding. Please, do yourself a favor and do not hire this couple. They are not honest with their services and do not uphold their contracts.”
0 out of 5
“PLEASE don’t use him! I have paid $7,200 so far, and all I received is a roughly edited dvd and 100 thank you prints (which took over 3 months to pick up and many phone calls later). My husband and I are currently filing a civil lawsuit as well as a complaint with the Little Falls police department. We have also filed a formal complaint with the BBB. Michael and his wife are unprofessional and full of excuses. They were all about us to get us signed, and after that slowly started to ignore us. Our engagement photos were rushed (20 minutes) though they were very nice. On our wedding day, Michael was early and seemed very attentive. He took over 2,000 pictures and had them posted for us to see the day after our wedding! Many were nice but some of the pictures look blurry and have shadows (very disappointing). That’s where the niceness stopped because Michael had all of our money. Now I’m fighting legally to get my photo proofs and my raw dvd footage so I can take it to another company and get it finished properly.”
5 out of 5 (This one was probably Michael himself reviewing his own work)
“Michael and his wife kathleen did a great job on our wedding photography. We just pick up the final albums they were great! ”
0 out of 5
“DO NOT USE THIS GUY – he sucks! it has been over 2 years and we havent received anything! the day we booked someone was waiting outside his place and told us how bad he was. they give you the run around every time. we are tired of his bull sh*t. the quality of pictures a 4 year old with a cell phone can take. there is nothing special. he is always late. late to the engagement shoot, late to the wedding! they sit around and dont take pictures we went over that were a must. PLEASE STAY AWAY – we are thinking about getting lawyers involved now.!! GO ELSE WHERE!”
0 out of 5
“Where do I start; had to do 2 e-photo shoots bc first go around was with second photog, who was 1 hr late, rushed us, shadows, insulted my husband and forgot her step stool. Luckily Michael redid the e-photo shoot and the thank you card came out nice, although took him 4 months and 2 tried to get us the right amount. Day of wedding showed up without a second photog (which we paid for them to eat and also in our contract), his wife showed up as our videographer when we saw his sons videos at initial meeting, did not take any photos of cocktail hr, poor photos of couples walking down aisle, none of my harpist. Poor video quality and bad editing. Constant excuses about getting our albums – he was sick, his dad was sick, he sent the photos/albums to another company (he told us originally he did all the processing/editing himself), etc. 10 months later we finally get our items – the 2 wall photos were wrong, the parents albums were cheap and not what he showed us, luckily our album came out nice. Don’t get me started on the video. The CD with our photos was blank, still waiting on that! I expressed my concern and unhappiness with them and they took a small amount off our final payment but that doesn’t make up for the stress I went through or the poor quality items we received. The online proofs are difficult to see. The pictures just look outdated and amateur. I have since told my venue to stop recommending him based on my experience. It seems form previous posters that his work/business has gone downhill over the past year or so.”
Moral of the story: Don’t be a lazy scummy businessman and call yourself a photographer.
Michael is currently out on bail and is due back in court on October 15th, 2013 in front of a grand jury.
From his YouTube Chanel: