BELLEVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Dozens of newlyweds say they were scammed out of their wedding photos.
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported, they said the same photographer took their pictures and money and then disappeared.
Gabrielle and Chris Kuzio now have only one wedding photo to decorate their new home and remember their big day. It was taken by the bride’s father.
They paid Jorge Valdivia, of Mirage Artistic Photography, about $4,000 to do the rest. But since the September wedding, Valdivia has been out of the picture.
“In March, he said he’s so sorry, everything’s on its way. now He had some sort of hiccup, whatever, health issue,” Gabrielle Kuzio said. “I still have not received it.”
And they are not the only ones. Dozens of online reviews over the past year by other newlyweds call him a scam artist and share similar stories.
“For our first dance, I recorded a video for her playing a song on the guitar and actually singing to her, and that would have been really, really nice to have on video,” said Michael Semler. “And I might not ever see it.”
Semler, a Navy sailor, and his wife Ashley, have moved to Florida since their July 2016 wedding in New Jersey.
“We specifically paid this guy to have a video so we could hear our family’s voices because we’re not home,” Ashley Semler said.
Like the newlyweds, CBS2 tried calling, emailing and messaging Valdivia’s social media accounts. There were no answers.
Different websites list several different addresses for Mirage Artistic Photography. The company’s Facebook page brought CBS2 to Belleville.
It turns out Valdivia was renting space from an event planning company to meet with clients. He left in December and they haven’t heard from him since.
Former landlord Chris Andres said about one to two brides and grooms have been coming in every week since Valdivia left.
“You get married only once forever and you want those memories,” Gabrielle Kuzio said. “And when you deal with someone like that, it ruins your day.”
The lost prints and videos cost the couples thousands of dollars. What was on them is invaluable.