Fyre Festival’s Co-Founder Arrested And Charged With Fraud, Karma Is Alive

by Lilli Petersen

The ongoing saga of the disastrous, doomed Fyre Festival took another turn on Friday, when Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland was arrested on federal fraud charges, CNN reported.

McFarland is charged with one count of wire fraud in connection with a “scheme to defraud investors,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York on Friday.

McFarland was arrested in New York City, and is expected to appear in court on Saturday.

The complaint alleges that McFarland, the co-founder and CEO of Fyre Media, misrepresented his company's revenue and income in order to defraud investors of $1.2 million.

McFarland is accused of telling investors that the company was making up to $1 million per month, when in fact Fyre Media made less than $60,000 total between May 2016 to April 2017, when the festival took place. It also alleges that he showed investors a doctored stock ownership statement, to make it appear as if McFarland owned more of the company than he did.

It was not immediately apparent if McFarland has legal representation regarding the charges. Elite Daily reached out to Fyre Media, which was unable to immediately provide comment.

“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 the released statement. “Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, McFarland will now have to answer for his crimes.” The federal charges carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

The news was greeted with Twitter's habitual snark.

The disastrous Fyre Festival, which was billed as a luxurious, high-end music festival full of celebrities, influencers, and general glamour in the Bahamas, ended up being a bit more Hunger Games than it was cocktails in the surf. Tweets from the April 2017 festival showed FEMA tents provided as housing and cheese slices on bread provided as the “gourmet” cuisine.

At the time, not everyone was sympathetic.


The federal suit is just the latest in the Fyre Festival's legal woes. Multiple lawsuits have already been filed against the festival and its organizers by disgruntled attendees, with one class-action lawsuit asking for a minimum $100 million in damages for unhappy concert-goers. In the days after the festival fell apart, co-founder Ja Rule tweeted an apology to attendees, saying that the problems with the festival were "NOT MY FAULT... but I'm taking responsibility I'm deeply sorry to everyone who was inconvenienced by this..." The festival was also accused of not paying its employees, but asking them to stick around and keep working anyway.

No matter what happens with the federal lawsuit, there's plenty of people waiting for their shot at getting a piece of McFarland.