Fyre Festival Organizer Arrested for Wire Fraud, Faces 20 Years in Prison
Billy MacFarland, who founded the Fyre Festival that was canceled after a disastrous first day in April, has been arrested on the charge that he allegedly defrauded investors. If convicted, the 25-year-old MacFarland could serve up to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowed for wire fraud.
According to a statement by Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim, MacFarland “promised a life-changing music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster." He added that “McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put in over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival.”
The FBI investigation turned up that MacFarland allegedly conned at least two investors into giving him $1.2 million after he allegedly told them that Fyre Media had already brought in millions as a result of artist bookings. The company, the documents claim, had only earned less than $60,000 from 60 bookings.
He is also alleged to have presented an investor with a falsified stock ownership statement that implied that he owned more than $2.5 million worth of shares in Fyre Media, although he only owned less than $1,500. MacFarland is scheduled to appear before the U.S. Magistrate today.
Scheduled to be held on the last weekend in April, the Fyre Festival was promoted as a luxurious experience on a private island in the Bahamas, filled with top-quality food, A-list entertainment and celebrities. However, it never got off the ground due to lack of preparation and was a publicity disaster for rapper Ja Rule, who co-founded the festival. In the aftermath, stories of the behind-the-scenes confusion made it into the press, and MacFarland and Rule are also facing civil litigation on the grounds that it was a get-rich-quick scheme.
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