Fyre Festival Founder Arrested For Fraud, Faces 20 Years in Prison

Billy McFarland

Two months after the inaugural Fyre Festival went up in flames, more bad news has surfaced.

Festival co-founder Billy McFarland was arrested Friday (June 30) in New York and charged with wire fraud and accused of defrauding investors, the Department of Justice said in a press release.

The 25-year-old “promised a life-changing music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster,” Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said in a statement. “McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put in over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival.”

Apparently, there was an FBI investigation after Fyre Festival ended in disaster. Federal prosecutors allege that McFarland convinced two people to invest $1.2 million into Fyre Media by providing false docs that claimed the company earned millions of dollars in revenue from thousands of artist bookings. However, Fyre had actually earned less than $60,000 from about 60 bookings.

Furthermore, the release said he provided one investor with an “altered” stock ownership statement that made it “appear that McFarland could personally guarantee the investment.” It said that he owned shares worth more than $2.5 million, while in reality, he owned less than $1,500 of the stock.

If convicted, McFarland faces up to 20 years in prison.

In late April, McFarland — and business partner Ja Rule — made a last-minute cancellation of Fyre Festival, although guests had already arrived in the Bahamas. In the days and weeks following, the company was hit with a $100 million class-action lawsuit, as well as another $3 million lawsuit over a loan taken out just weeks before the festival’s cancellation.

Ja Rule is not mentioned in the DOJ press release.