Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland charged wire fraud

Screengrab via Fyre Festival/YouTube

Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland charged with wire fraud

Here's what is alleged.


Josh Katzowitz


Posted on Jul 1, 2017   Updated on May 23, 2021, 1:11 am CDT

Since the Fyre Festival was canceled before it even began in April, the FBI has been investigating organizer Billy McFarland. On Friday, McFarland was arrested and charged with wire fraud for allegedly defrauding his investors.

“As alleged, William McFarland promised a ‘life changing’ music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster,” Joon Kim, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival. Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, McFarland will now have to answer for his crimes.”

More from the New York Times:

… At least two people invested about $1.2 million in the two companies, and in communications with these investors in 2016 and 2017, Mr. McFarland repeatedly overstated Fyre Media’s revenue from bookings and his own wealth.


He said Fyre Media had earned millions of dollars from thousands of bookings this year and last. But in reality, the complaint said, his company had taken in only $57,443.

And in one communication with an investor, Mr. McFarland supplied a Scottrade statement that he had altered to inflate his ownership of a particular company’s stock. According to the complaint, the fake document showed that Mr. McFarland owned $2.5 million in shares, when in reality his position was worth $1,500.

The Fyre Festival was supposed to be an ultra-luxurious celebration of music, art, and food. Instead, when festival attendees arrived in the Bahamas, they found something completely different. One lawsuit filed alleged that there was no air conditioning and that people found bug infestations and blood-stained mattresses.


McFarland and his partner, Ja Rule, face more than a dozen lawsuits. That includes a $100 million class-action lawsuit that alleges a “lack of adequate food, water, shelter, and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees—suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions—that was closer to ‘The Hunger Games’ or ‘Lord of the Flies’ than Coachella.”

H/T Vice News

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*First Published: Jul 1, 2017, 2:52 pm CDT