Fyre Festival Co-Organizer Billy McFarland Charged With Wire Fraud

Event was deemed a failure after it erupted into chaos

By Corinne Heller Jul 01, 2017 9:53 PMTags
Watch: Fyre Festival Attendee Screams for Food

Billy McFarland, who co-organized the failed Fyre Festival with Ja Rule, has been arrested and charged with wire fraud.

Federal agents detained him in Manhattan Friday. McFarland was charged over his alleged "connection with a scheme to defraud investors" with his company Fyre Media LLC and "a related entity responsible for organizing a music festival set to take place in the Bahamas"—the Fyre Festival, prosecutors said. He has not commented.

The inaugural event was supposed to take place in April and cost guests between $1,000 and $12,000. But festival-goers reported fights over food, "refugee camp"-like conditions, difficulties getting flights back to the United States and "chaos" at the scene, promoting organizers to postpone the event.

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"As alleged, William McFarland promised a 'life changing' music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster," acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York. "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."

"From in or about 2016 through in or about May 2017, McFarland perpetrated a scheme to defraud, inducing at least two individuals to invest approximately $1.2 million dollars in Fyre Media and an associated entity based on misrepresentations about Fyre Media's revenue and income," the statement said, "In order to procure these investments, McFarland provided materially false information. For example, McFarland told investors that Fyre Media earned millions of dollars of revenue from thousands of artist bookings from at least July 2016 until April 2017. In reality, during that approximate time period, Fyre Media earned less than $60,000 in revenue from approximately 60 artist bookings."

If convicted, McFarland could face a maximum of 20 years in prison.

McFarland's arrest comes almost two months after he and Ja Rule were hit with two class action lawsuits by attendees of the failed festival.