Friday 20 October 2017

The promoter of failed Fyre Festival arrested on a fraud charge

Fyre Festival co-founder Billy McFarland was arrested in New York.

(Hallie Wilson/PA)
(Hallie Wilson/PA)

By Zaina Alibhai

The promoter of a music festival in the Bahamas that failed spectacularly has been arrested on a wire fraud charge.

Entrepreneur Billy McFarland, 25, is suspected of intending to defraud investors in his company Fyre Media, and Fyre Festival which was supposed to take place on the island of Exuma over two weekends in April and May.

The music event – organised by McFarland and rapper Ja Rule – had promised a luxury, once-in-a-lifetime experience, but guests had reported scenes of chaos upon arriving on the island.

Lawyer Joon Kim said McFarland presented fake documents to persuade investors to put more than $1 million into his company and the failed festival.

Kim said McFarland “promised a ‘life-changing’ music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster”.

McFarland and Ja Rule already face more than a dozen lawsuits filed by ticket buyers and investors in the festival.

Tickets to the luxury festival cost some revellers up to $12,000. However, when the event was cancelled, all festival-goers were offered a full refund as well as free VIP passes to next year’s festival.

McFarland is expected to appear before a federal magistrate judge and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.

McFarland’s lawyer did not immediately respond for a comment.

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