SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Several women accuse a San Diego photographer of failing to provide promised services despite receiving initial payments.
Lisa is an East County mother of three searching for new photos of her family. She stumbled upon a Facebook post from Lexie Cruz promoting her photography business.
“I hadn’t had pictures of my kids in several years, so I thought it would be a good idea to give my business to someone in the area and young and emerging people,” said Lisa, who refused to use her last name.
The bail was only $ 40, but she said after paying, Cruz’s communication became infrequent. “I asked her to confirm the time and place to make sure we were going to the right park at the right time,” Lisa said. “It took her a week to finally reply and she replied less than 24 hours in advance.”
Cruz never showed up on the day of the photo shoot. “We waited almost an hour,” said Lisa.
Another mom from San Diego, Jennifer, said she booked Cruz for a pregnancy photo shoot last summer. After spending hours getting ready, she said Cruz told her at the last minute that she had a family emergency and couldn’t make it. Cruz tried to reschedule the appointment later that night – something Jennifer couldn’t do.
“I’m not the one who canceled her, she canceled me,” said Jennifer, who also refused to use her last name. “I asked to get my deposit back … and it kind of got dark.”
She assumed she’d lost her $ 20 – not a huge sum – and let go of it. It was only after hearing more stories about Cruz from other mothers that Jennifer decided to take action.
“Back then, in December, I started filing a police report just to do my part,” said Jennifer.
Christine also hired Cruz for a photo shoot as a Mother’s Day present. She paid $ 45 on her bail. Christine, who only wanted to share her first name, said Cruz claimed she mixed up the dates. “I sent her a message at 8 a.m. and said … are we good for tomorrow? We meet in Balboa Park. Is that okay with you? And she didn’t write to me until midnight that she couldn’t, “said Christine.
When Christine said she was going to report her to the San Diego Police Department, Cruz eventually gave her money back.
An online Facebook group where people share their stories has nearly 300 people.
One bride in the group named Meagan told Team 10 that she signed a contract with Cruz for their wedding in North Carolina in August. Meagan said she paid $ 1,000 through a banking app and Cruz was due to be shooting engagement photos in North Carolina on May 29. After hearing nothing from her for 11 days and receiving no confirmation that Cruz had ever bought a plane ticket to North Carolina, she asked for her money back. Cruz said their deposits are non-refundable.
Meagan said she had to hire another photographer and didn’t get any money back.
Cruz sent Team 10 a video with her explanation. In the 14-minute video, she said, “Every story has two sides.”
Cruz claimed that people were spreading false information about her.
“I have families that I’ve worked with. I did photo shoots, ”said Cruz. “Yes, there have been cancellations, no deposit was refunded and I take responsibility for what I did. But I also can’t say that I’ve done a lot of things that people say I am. “
Cruz told Team 10 they had a lawyer but wouldn’t give a name. Cruz doesn’t name specific customers in her video, but she said she wanted to be transparent.
“The last thing I want to do is tell mothers and brides that I’m stealing their money and running,” said Cruz.
Cruz wouldn’t do a one-on-one interview with Team 10. She was not charged with any crimes by the San Diego Police Department. A San Diego police spokesman confirmed that the “case is still active and is being investigated by detectives.”
The Better Business Bureau recommends anyone hiring a photographer for references, having a contract with all the details, and paying by credit card if possible. The BBB also does not recommend paying the entire fee in advance.
Team 10 women interviewed said they had learned a valuable lesson working with Cruz.
“Notice some of the red flags because she originally sent me a link to every cash app available,” Lisa said.
“Be sure to do your due diligence to review someone’s business,” added Jennifer. “Everyone wants a lot, but sometimes you get what you pay for.”