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Fyre Festival promoter arrested on fraud charge

Jul 01, 2017
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The promoter behind a failed music festival in the Bahamas that cost more than $US12,000 a ticket has been arrested in New York on a wire fraud charge.

Billy McFarland was charged with scheming to defraud investors in his company, Fyre Media, and the Fyre Festival that was supposed to take place on the island of Exuma over two weekends in April and May.

McFarland and his business partner, rapper Ja Rule, are already facing more than a dozen lawsuits filed by ticket buyers and investors in the festival.

The Fyre Festival was billed as an ultra-luxurious event with headliners including Blink-182 and hip-hop act Migos, but performers bowed out and organisers were forced to cancel the show.

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Acting US attorney Joon Kim said McFarland presented fake documents to convince investors to put more than $US1 million into his company and the failed festival.

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

Tents and a portable toilet at Fyre Festival Attendees expected “luxury”, but arrived to tents, wooden stalls and portable lavatories.

An attorney who has represented McFarland did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attendees paid more than $US12,000 for the weekend event, but arrived to mass disorganisation at the half-built music festival site.

A statement from organisers cited “circumstances out of our control” for the inability to prepare the “physical infrastructure” for the event.

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Photos on social media showed tents, wooden stalls and portable toilets had been brought in for the festival, rather than the luxury facilities that were advertised.

A lawsuit filed in May in Los Angeles said the festival was “nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam” akin to a Ponzi scheme.

Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, has not been arrested.

McFarland, 25, is expected to appear before a federal magistrate judge over the weekend.

He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.

 

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