Man Behind Fyre Festival Fiasco Busted for Fraud

William McFarland faces one count of wire fraud, scores of lawsuits
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 1, 2017 10:59 AM CDT
Man Behind Fyre Festival Fiasco Busted for Fraud
This photo provided by Jake Strang shows mattress and tents set up for attendees of the Fyre Festival.   (Jake Strang via AP, File)

Failed Fyre Festival co-founder William McFarland was set to appear before a federal judge on Saturday, one day after his arrest for wire fraud. CNN reports McFarland faces charges he defrauded at least two investors who put up $1.2 million to back his ultra-luxe Bahamas music festival that crashed and burned in April. McFarland and his partner, rapper Ja Rule, face more than a dozen lawsuits in connection with the scheme, per the New York Times. A lawyer for Ja Rule tells the paper he hadn't been arrested and is not believed to be "a subject of this investigation." Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim says in a statement that beginning in late 2016, McFarland used "fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company," Fyre Media, "and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival."

If convicted, McFarland faces up to 20 years in prison. Festival-goers who paid $12K for tickets—and up to $400K for packages—to the festival pitched by celebrities like Kendall Jenner were "promised a 'life-changing'" event, Kim says. But instead of gourmet eats and top-flight bands, they got a "disaster." When guests arrived at the private island of Exumas, they found partially built disaster tents, little food or water—and no beer, per CNN. One lawsuit likened the scene, complete with feral dogs, to "The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies." Bands like Blink-182 cancelled, and people were left to fend for themselves. Twitter posts showed people crowding into the airport in an attempt to flee. (German music festival plans underground pipeline for beer.)

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