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Fyre Festival founder William McFarland indicted for wire fraud

July 2, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Fyre Festival founder William McFarland indicted for wire fraud

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On Saturday, William McFarland, the founder of Fyre Festival, left Federal Court in New York City and went to his new digs – his parents’ house in New Jersey.

The 25-year-old has been charged with one count of wire fraud which can result in a sentence of 20 years behind bars.

He left the court with his court-appointed attorney Sabrina Schroff went to New Jersey to move in with his parents.

McFarland, the brains behind the infamous Fyre Festival, walked out of court after paying $300,000 bail and got into a taxi. He used to reside in a $21,750-a-month penthouse and drove a Maserati worth of $110,000.

Billy McFarland leaves court after posting $300,000 bail

However, on Saturday, not even his legal team showed up to court because he reportedly owes him money, The Daily Mail reported.

“I’d love to speak,” he told the media after he was released after a night in jail. “I’d love to say something. We’ll set it up for a better time.”

“It is clear he did not understand the severity of the charges until now,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy Greenberg said.

The man is accused of altering a brokerage agreement to say he had stock worth $2.5 million and faked millions in revenue from artist bookings.

Revelers arrived at the Bahamas festival, backed by A-listers including Bella Hadid, to find a wasteland of half-built tents, rat droppings, and feral dogs

McFarland made the national news in April after people arrived at the festival in the Bahamas, backed and promoted by celebrities such as Bella Hadid, to find a wasteland of half-built tents, rat droppings, and wild dogs.

The festival’s founders, McFarland and Ja Rule, have since been slammed with multiple lawsuits amid accusations that they scammed hundreds of attendees by neglecting to deliver on the event.

Joon H Kim, the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, along with William F Sweeney Jr., the assistant director-in-charge of the FBI in New York, revealed that McFarland was arrested on Friday.

“McFarland promised a ‘life-changing’ festival but delivered a disaster. McFarland presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company, and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival,” Kim stated.

Cheese sandwiches was among the food said to have been served to ticket holders at Fyre Festival in April

William F. Sweeney Jr. added: “Under McFarland’s direction, Fyre created a promoter’s marketplace for entertainment bidding. In addition to this venture, McFarland went one step further in establishing a subsidiary of the company, Fyre Festival LLC. But to drive the success of both entities, McFarland put on a show, misrepresenting the status of his businesses to rake in lucrative investment deals. In the end, the public failure of the Fyre Festival signaled that something wasn’t right, as we allege in detail today.”

McFarland launched Fyre Media in 2016 to build a digital app that would allow people who are organizing events, such as concerts, to bid for artist bookings.

According to records given to investors by McFarland, Fyre Media’s projected revenue from at least April 2016 to November 2017 consisted of artist bookings.

In late 2016, McFarland set up a subsidiary of Fyre Media known as Fyre Festival LLC and started to promote the Fyre Festival.

The complaint noted that he advertised the Fyre Festival by insisting that it would bring an international audience together to share a life changing experience, but, the event was deemed a failure.

From 2016 to May 2017, McFarland reportedly came up with a scheme to defraud, inducing at least two people to invest $1.2 million dollars in Fyre Media and an associated entity based on misrepresentations about Fyre Media’s revenue.

Some of the revelers likened the festival camping ground to a refugee camp

To procure the cash, he gave false information.

In reality, during that period, Fyre Media made less than $60,000 from roughly 60 artist bookings.

McFarland also reportedly gave one investor an altered stock ownership statement to make it appear that he could guarantee the investment.

He is accused of giving an altered brokerage document that showed that he owned shares of stock worth over $2.5 million when he owned shares valued at less than $1,500.

Tickets to the Fyre Festival cost between $1,200 and $200,000 and the event was promoted as a weekend of music, luxury cuisine, and celebrities.

It was promoted by A-listers on Instagram and promised those who could afford it that they’d be partying in plush accommodations on grounds once occupied by Pablo Escobar.

When the event went to shambles on April 27th, social media was filled with reports of terrible conditions on the island.

When hundreds of ticket holders went to the island, they were met with incomplete tents with no furniture and a dangerously low supply of water and food.

The organizers have issued an apology after angry and frightened customers wrote about their experience on social media and vowed to refund everyone’s money.

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