Billy McFarland, the young entrepreneur behind the disastrous Fyre Festival, has been arrested by the FBI, and is expected to appear before a Manhattan judge later today, facing charges of wire fraud.
Fyre Festival promised a weekend of music and high-end, Instagram-ready luxury on an island in the Bahamas, but poor planning sent the whole thing to shit, leaving a bunch of angry rich kids stranded without basic amenities.
Wire fraud is very serious business, and Joon Kim, the acting U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, delivered a stern rebuke to McFarland when announcing the charges against him, saying:
“As alleged, William McFarland promised a ‘life changing’ music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster. McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival. Thanks to the investigative efforts of the FBI, McFarland will now have to answer for his crimes.”
It is specifically alleged that McFarland provided investors with “materially false information” about his finances, claiming that the value of certain shares he owned was more than $2.5 million, when in reality it was less than $1500.
Prosecutors also claim that McFarland:
“… perpetrated a scheme to defraud, inducing at least two individuals to invest approximately $1.2 million dollars in Fyre Media and an associated entity based on misrepresentations about Fyre Media’s revenue and income.”
Criminal fraud convictions can carry a sentence of up to 20 years, but federal prosecutors will need to convince a grand jury that McFarland was not merely incompetent, but actually formed an intent to defraud investors.
The embattled entrepreneur also faces a number of civil suits from Fyre Festival attendees and investors, and these will likely proceed alongside the criminal matter.
Photo: Chance Yeh / Getty.