Before the world’s worst wedding photographer allegedly entrapped women in a sex-for-money scam, feds say he Googled “rape by deception,” “rape by deception kansas,” and “illegal to trick girls into sleeping with you.”
Mario Antoine, 33, was Kansas City’s most-loathed wedding photographer. He’d been jailed on nine counts of ruining weddings by accepting advance payments for his photography services, then failing to show up to the ceremony. But his worst alleged crimes occurred in front of the camera.
A new 21-count indictment accuses Antoine of luring young women into fake pornography shoots, having sex with them under false pretenses, then sending the women’s explicit photos to their family and employers when they started asking questions.
Antoine pulled the scheme on dozens of Kansas City women, the indictment by a federal attorney in the Western District of Missouri charged on Monday. He used nearly as many aliases as he had alleged victims.
Antoine sought out women on Facebook, where he had a handful of accounts, the indictment charges. Using a profile for a fictional women named “Nikki,” Antoine would allegedly message women with compliments.
“Nikki” would tell the women they were beautiful. Had they considered modeling? “She” was in the industry, and would be happy to help them get started.
“I do some adult modeling stuff on the side…pays amazing,” Antoine allegedly wrote one woman using the Nikki alias in May 2015. He promised that any pictures would be strictly confidential. “it goes to countries where nobody here will ever know it exists or ever see it,” he wrote, promising tens of thousands of dollars for contracts with private websites overseas.
When the woman agreed to a photo shoot, Antoine began messaging her as “Mario Sixstring,” the fictional Nikki’s business partner.
“Hey Nicole said to message ya,” Antoine allegedly wrote. He said he worked with a modeling agency, and presented Nikki as a success story.
“[Nikki] does those shoots, and they go overseas,” he allegedly wrote the woman. “so nobody here can see them … she makes a killer living at it … I mean, I dont judge, $10k-15k for 25 mins of work…I’d do it if i was a girl haha.”
“Mario Sixstring” messaged the woman a picture of thousands of dollars spread across his car, with the promise of more money in the bank. “Nikki” also sent her a picture of a forged contract with “Playboy Asia” indicating that she had earned $142,093 from her adult modeling contract.
But the woman had doubts. Even if Antoine could come through with the promised payout, she wasn’t sure he could guarantee her privacy. Then he hinted at other victims.
“Because you have 5 friends who’ve done it,” Antoine allegedly messaged her, “and over 58 girls in KC from the last 3 years have done them…not ONE has ever been found out…EVER.”
The woman agreed to perform sexual acts with Antoine on camera as an “audition” for future gigs. She would be paid for the work, he reassured her, allegedly using the alias “Chris Campbell” to send a modeling contract that promised a “base compensation” of $2,000 and an additional $12,000 once the future photo shoot was completed. “Campbell” also sent the woman a “Confidentiality Agreement” between her and “Playboy Asia.”
“Playboy Asia” does not exist. Neither did the money.
A $2,000 check would be in the mail, Antoine allegedly told the woman after her “audition.” Months passed. The woman messaged Antoine on Facebook, asking where her money had gone. But instead of producing the cash, Antoine unearthed the explicit footage he’d recorded of the woman and sent it to her boyfriend.
“She does porn,” Antoine allegedly messaged the boyfriend, following up with racy photos of the woman.
The woman’s boyfriend was quick to call the scam. “You are distributing unwanted pornographic material to me,” he wrote, adding that it “takes consent to send pictures like that.”
Antoine said the woman’s modeling contract with “Playboy Asia” meant he could do whatever he liked. “Lol, not when she signs a release, i could post them on the front page of the KC Star if i wanted,” Antoine allegedly taunted the man. “All you’re gonna be known is as the dude who has a porn star girlfriend.”
Antoine allegedly used the photos for blackmail over and over again.
With a different woman in April 2015, Antoine allegedly threatened to publish photos and videos, unless she paid him $9,000 or had sex with him again. The woman was coerced into a second sexual assault by Antoine, rather than risking public exposure. Antoine later used the woman’s photos to recruit new women, passing the pictures off as his “Nikki” alias, the indictment charges.
A third woman also performed sexual acts with Antoine on camera in May 2015. When she complained of her delayed payment two months later, Antoine allegedly sent nude pictures from the photoshoot to her employer.
When a fourth woman pressed Antoine for payment, he allegedly assailed the woman’s boyfriend online with messages from multiple aliases. Using the pseudonym “Dalton Wayne,” Antoine allegedly sent the boyfriend explicit pictures of the woman, claiming that she and “Wayne” were in a relationship. Separately, Antoine messaged the boyfriend with the “Nikki” account and began flirting with him.
Antoine was aware of his actions’ criminality, the federal indictment argues. The search history on one of his cell phones revealed that he had visited “rapebyfraud.com, a website hosted by a sexual assault survivor which seeks to educate women how to avoid sex assault scams such as this one perpetrated by Antoine,” the indictment reads. “Antoine also used this same phone to conduct Google searches for ‘rape by deception,’ ‘rape by deception kansas,’ and ‘illegal to trick girls into sleeping with you.’”
While the indictment suggests that Antoine’s alleged coercing could constitute second-degree rape, he only faces charges on 12 counts of wire fraud, two counts of cyberstalking, two counts of online enticement, two counts of making false statements to federal law enforcement agents, one count of obstructing justice, one count of extortion, and one count of the false registration of a domain name.
All the incidents detailed in the indictment took place in 2015. But Antoine was notorious in Kansas City circles long before then.
A Kansas City woman told The Daily Beast that Antoine had scammed her in 2013. “I know he was blackmailing and lying. He still owes me money,” the woman said, although she wouldn’t say why she was owed. “Thank God he’s being exposed!”
At the time, Antoine’s crimes ran from fraudulent wedding photography to theft. In September 2013, he was convicted on nine fraud counts for duping newlyweds. The fraudulent photographer would advertise his services through a number of now-defunct photo companies, then cut and run with clients’ advance deposits.
“We were taken by mario antoine!!!!” reads a 2011 review for one of Imagine Photo KC, one of Antoine’s companies. “My daughters wedding is this june-gave him $1000 deposit-went from me straight to bank… I am SO glad i dumped this man with only money being lost, how would i feel if he left my daughter ath the altar with no pics no transportation on the most important day of her life! RUN FAR AND RUN FAST FROM THE SCUMBALL!!!!!!”
Robert Prutsman and his wife lost their wedding photos to the scam.
“He actually did show up to ours,” Prutsman told The Daily Beast. Rumors of Antoine’s shady services had begun to swirl after the couple booked him, and they worried he’d be a no-show. “He did supply services, he rode around in the limo, went to the reception… we thought we were in the clear. You almost feel selfish, like other people got scammed but not us! But we never got the product.”
Prutsman and his wife are still missing the photos from their wedding day. But he says their situation could have been even worse.
“This new scenario hits very close to home because my wife could have very well been one of these victims we read about today,” Prutsman said. For a surprise gift before their wedding, his wife had looked for photographer to make a boudoir book. “She approached [Antoine] like, I’m looking for someone to do a nice book for my husband, can you recommend anyone? He said, ‘oh I can do it.’ My wife said, with all due respect I’d like a female.”
Antoine recommended a photographer named Kelly Chase. But the character appeared to have been one of Antoine’s growing collection of aliases. “It was kind of a catfish situation where he had fake profiles: images and galleries,” Prutsman said.
Chase drove a hard sell, pressuring Prutsman’s wife to come to her Kansas City studio. But Antoine’s ex-girlfriend, who had helped run his wedding photo racket, intervened.
“She started messaging my wife, saying ‘He’s a scam artist, you need to avoid him.’ They apparently had a falling out,” Prutsman said. The ex-girlfriend warned Prutsman’s wife that “‘You’re not talking to a girl, you’re talking to him.’”
Antoine’s falling-out with this girlfriend also sparked the first rumors of his alleged sexual exploitation scheme.
In 2011, an anonymous person uploaded racy photos of Antoine’s ex-girlfriend to a Kansas City gossip forum, The Daily Beast discovered. “She’s an ex girlfriend of a good friend of mine,” the post said, naming the ex-girlfriend. “She is so crazy she lied to the police and said her ex boyfriend beats her. The guy put up with her for 2 years before she finally drove him to go out to California to check into a mental hospital because she drove him crazy trying to help her.”
Commenters quickly accused Antoine uploading the pictures. And some alleged a pornography scam eerily similar to the one detailed in the October 2016 indictment.
“Mario Ambrose Antoine is scaming young female models into doing pornographic photo shoots in Nashville Tn,” the 2011 post alleges. “He creates a fake Facebook profile and acts like a female who does photo shoots too in order to gain these girls trust.”
But jail time would be years away for Antoine, who was arrested in 2011 for stealing and pawning off a roommate’s guitar, and again in 2012 for nine felony counts on his wedding photography scheme.
“This story is crazy,” Prutsman said. “Absolutely nuts. To hear where it ended with the new charges, I’m not surprised one bit. He’s pathological.”