Memories from the most significant celebrations in our lives are priceless and some people are willing to pay a lot of money to have those momentous occasions captured by a photographer.
One local family claims they paid a photographer over $1,000 dollars and never received their photos.
Monica Ramirez says the only images she has of her sister’s Quinceanera are a couple of cell phone pictures.
Ramirez said her aunt paid local photographer Juan Perea to take pictures of the event, but things started to get a little fishy when they couldn’t get a hold of him after the party.
“It wasn’t until two weeks later (My aunt) said what’s going on? She didn’t hear anything and he said its going to be ready in a week. Give me another week. It was always another week give me another week.” Ramirez said.
The family decided to take matters into their own hands, filing a civil lawsuit against Perea and serving him the papers at a Coachella Starbucks.
“He realized right away that he had been served. He said what is it, what did I do? My uncle told him you scammed my wife and he walked out of Starbucks,” Ramirez said.
Riverside County court documents show four lawsuits were filed over the past two years against Perea and his company. The judge ruled against him in three of the cases, ordering him to reimburse those clients.
Ramirez’s family began reaching out to find others who may have been swindled. She said her aunt posted on a Facebook group that has over 30,000 members and people began to comment that Juan Perea had done the same thing to them.
18-year-old Karen Lopez says she received her photos from her Quinceanera one year after the event, and her photo album came with unfamiliar faces in it.
“There’s a picture of a wedding that’s not even mine,” said Lopez.
Other clients of Perea say they’ve been in contact with him and feel he deserves a second chance.
“I know that for the past three years he’s had a lot of problems. I see that he feels remorseful,” said Lupita Samaniego said.
We reached out to Perea to see if he would meet with us but he declined to be interviewed.
Gregory Goodman, the owner of My Little Flower Shop in Palm Springs, had a piece advice for those planning on hiring a photographer. “Make sure you get everything in writing even the last little detail,” Goodman said.
Something Ramirez hopes others do to avoid being ripped off.
“I want people to be careful and have referrals of that person because this type of stuff happens and we haven’t experienced something like this until now and it’s an awful feeling,” Ramirez said.
The State of California Department of Justice has some recommendations before you sign a big contract. First make sure you search online for customer feedback, complaints, and other information. Check any licenses and registrations the company must have. See what payment methods the company accepts and be wary of companies that require cash or check, or require access to your bank account, for big purchases.