Michael Wilson, better known as Michael Cassius, is an Australian-based web designer who operates his business under the name of Cassius and Los Vivos. He defrauded us here at Travel Victoria of many thousands of dollars when we commissioned his services for website design.
In May 2012, we hired Michael Cassius to redesign parts of the Travel Victoria website. The work required the creation and coding of around 30 web pages. We were asked to pay $4,400 up-front (50% of the total project cost) and were told the project would take 3 months to complete. We were not provided with any contract of terms to sign for the works – just a simple invoice to pay.
Three months passed, and the only progress Michael Cassius made was some rough layouts for a couple of the 30 web pages. Given his lack of progress, we made it abundantly clear the whole project must be completed by November 2012, which Michael agreed to.
There was little progress over the next few months – some first draft layouts for a few more pages. We felt we were at the bottom of Michael’s priority list, coming last to other clients, his insatiable appetite for travel and his love of the latest electronic gadgets. In early November, Michael Cassius sent us this email which declared that drafts for all 30 pages would be completed by 8th November and the final versions to be delivered by 22nd November 2012.
Little progress was made and the deadlines passed. Michael Cassius then changed his mobile phone number and didn’t notify us – despite the fact we used SMS as a major form of communication.
Michael Cassius then agreed to deduct $1,200 from the final payment for the project as compensation for the delay, plus provide us with $2,000 worth of his SEO services. Michael Cassius also conceded that he was fully responsible for all the project delays and missed project completion dates of August 2012, November 2012, December 2012 and January 2013.
The volume of feedback and changes were primarily due to Michael Cassius not following the original design specification and not properly considering the contents of the existing website.
In late January 2013, Michael churned out a few more pages and made some good progress with refining a few of the other pages he’d started on. Finally, it looked like things were firmly on track and this long-running project would be completed. The euphoria we experienced of finally seeing some decent progress was then exploited by Michael Cassius – he asked for a further payment of $2,090. Blinded by seeing some good results, we obliged, taking the total paid to him to $6,490.
After that payment, we heard very little of Michael Cassius. All future deadlines were missed. In our frustration, we insisted he sign a work contract with a clear completion date, which he refused. The lack of progress reached the stage where we decided to cut our losses with him and demand a refund as the project looked as if it would never be completed. He refused to provide any form of refund and severed all communications with us. His earlier offer to discount the total cost and provide extra services meant nothing now that he abandoned the project.
So after a year of working with Michael Cassius, and paying him $6,490 in advance, what did we end up with? He produced draft screenshots for just 13 out of the 30 web pages we needed. None of those page layouts were final and some were minus important functionality. 17 pages were missing. And not one single page had been coded into HTML/CSS for display on the web. So we were left $6,490 poorer with nothing to show for it other than a few draft screen grabs.
We advise anyone who intends to hire Michael Cassius to exercise extreme caution due to his history of dubious work ethics. Under no circumstances should you pay him money up-front. After all, he may simply do what he did to us – do a bit of work then disappear, never to be seen again.
Michael Cassius trades with an ABN of 16 062 901 165, however the listed address of his business is not his own. We’ve sent letters of demand requesting a refund by registered mail, and all those letters are unclaimed. This means if you run into problems with Michael Cassius, you simply have no way of contacting him if he changes his phone number again or if he ignores all your emails, like he’s done to us.
You can view the business website of Michael Cassius at www.cassius.com.au, but be aware that there have been periods recently where it shows no meaningful content.
If, like us, you’ve been scammed by web designer Michael Cassius, you can lodge a report with the ACCC by visiting their report a scam page. Your report may help in getting the word out about Michael Cassius and save other businesses from being defrauded.
Below are the invoices Michael Cassius sent us that we promptly paid. He produced not one final web page, thus we were delivered nothing we could use after paying him $6,490.
23rd July 2013 update:
We recently lodged a complaint about Michael Cassius, and his business Los Vivos, with Consumer Affairs Victoria. They have recorded our complaint and they responded with a letter indicating that they have added Michael Cassius’s details to their database so that his conduct is recorded for future reference.
30th July 2013 update:
Without any notification and completely out of the blue, today Michael Cassius refunded $2,000 to us – 14 months after our first payment to him. There is still $4,490 outstanding, not to mention lost interest on our money plus our own time and expenses in pursuing this matter with him. However, it gives us some hope that we may be able to finally get our money back. A special thank-you to the support Consumer Affairs Victoria has provided to us during this difficult time and to those people that shared their own stories with us and offered their advice and support.
25th October 2013 update:
It looks like Michael Cassius / Wilson is re-inventing his business yet again under a different name. The name he now goes by is Michael Tok and his new business is simply called ToktoK/iO. This follows his standard practice of altering his surname to closely match his business name. Even though Michael Cassius / Wilson now operates under a different name, this is no guarantee his new business, with its website located at www.toktok.io, is anymore trustworthy, given his past legacy of defrauding customers. We urge anyone that is considering dealing with Michael Tok and his new ToktoK/iO business to exercise extreme caution.