Fyre festival co-founder sentenced to six years in prison

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Fyre festival co-founder sentenced to six years in prisonFyre Festival Founder Sentenced Si Years Prison

Billy McFarland, the disgraced organizer of 2017’s now infamous Fyre music festival has been sentenced to six years in federal prison. Billed as as ultra-luxe festival experience featuring names like Disclosure and Major Lazer, the ill-fated endeavor was a legal and logistical nightmare of viral proportions. The fest left defrauded investors and outraged fest-goers both clamoring angrily for their money back, with hundreds stranded on an island with everything from tent fires to packs of wild dogs.

McFarland and rapper Ja Rule’s joint dumpster fire set off a string of lawsuits and unfathomably shady business practices that culminated with McFarland’s arrest on wire fraud charges in June of of 2017. The disgraced businessman settled with the SEC for a whopping 27.4 million as part of his plea deal, which included a reduced sentence. The legend of the most epic fest fail of all time has only grown since, spawning everything from a sold out NYC merch pop up to a Hulu docuseries. The legal saga may be over, but the infamous tale of Fyre fest is sure live on.

Photo Credit: Natan Dvir

Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland settles with SEC for $27.4 million

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Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland settles with SEC for $27.4 millionBilly Mcfarland Ticket Scam Wire Fraud Grammys Coachella

The Fyre Festival shenanigans have finally come to an end as the founder and potential one-percenter island paradise provider Billy McFarland has accepted a plea to the tune of $27.4 million for the doomed disaster.

While news of McFarland’s legal battles don’t outright confirm whether or not he’ll be serving jail time, McFarland’s plea does come on the heels of him already accepting a guilty plea on two counts of wire fraud earlier this year. Essentially, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ensured that McFarland may never serve as an officer or a director of a public company again. Part of the SEC’s latest press release reads as follows:

“McFarland induced investors to entrust him with tens of millions of dollars by fraudulently inflating key operational, financial metrics and successes of his companies, as well as his own personal success – including by giving investors a doctored brokerage account statement purporting to show personal stock holdings of over $2.5 million when, in reality, the account held shares worth under $1,500.”

McFarland and investors Margolin and Simon have all been charged with “violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws,” and the three have all accepted the plea deals they have been offered.

H/T: The Verge

Looks like XO Festival just pulled the Fyre alarm

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Looks like XO Festival just pulled the Fyre alarmLudacris Live Credit Ap

It’s like it was yesterday when the world watched droves of festival goers get dropped off on an island that was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime weekend experience, known as Fyre Festival. As it goes, outlandish promises of high profile influencers, a stacked line-up, and top of the line amenities, the organizers bamboozled people out of thousands of dollars for just one ticket…until they arrived at the island to find that not even one stage was set up and that their food options we’re comparable to elementary school cafeteria fare.

Well, it seems that not everyone can learn from past mistakes and this time the California rap festival known as XO Festival has gone down in fyre too. XO promised music from the likes Ludacris, T.I., Funk Flex, Biz Markie and other impressive hip-hop billings along with perks like a foam pit, indoor ice rink, color arena, and more. Ticket sales ranged from $375 to $2,495…sounding familiar yet?

The ticket holders to XO lucked out slightly compared to their Fyre counterparts considering the festival has been cancelled ahead of time. However, the festival claims they are still planning it and have turned to citing “fake media” for the festival’s ultimate failure.

The venue, Contra Costa Event Park, pulled out because of “the promoters’ lack of fulfilling contractual obligations,” many artists like Dangermaker also pulled out saying there was “no compensation for us, no contract, no details,” and it was even discovered that Ludacris was already performing at a different event that same weekend. There is also speculation that one of the promoters, known as Sami Habib, could really be the alias of Habibullah Qadir, according to Amplify, who has over 40 felonies for scamming people on high-end properties. Festival goers beware, there are more Billy McFarland’s out there and the signs aren’t always obvious.

Fyre Festival founder ordered to pay two attendees $5 million

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Fyre Festival founder ordered to pay two attendees $5 millionBilly McFarland Fyre Fest Billboard 1548

More than a year after the train wreck that was Fyre Festival, Seth Crossno and co-plaintiff Mark Thompson have won their lawsuit against the disastrous event’s founder, Billy McFarland. The blogger who chronicled the vastly underdelivered Bahamian event, Crossno, and Thompson are the first festival victims to win a suit against McFarland. Their attorney Stacy Miller told Vice News, “I think there’s going to be a lot of people looking to collect, but we’ll be first.” Miller has delivered, to the tune of $5 million.

Together, the two men paid $13,000 for travel, accommodations, and luxury VIP passes. As it goes, Crossno and Thompson ended up on a storm-ridden island with disheveled tents, sandwich lunches with less dignity than prison food, and none of the “glamorous” amenities that lured high-rolling festival goers in from all over the world. According to Miller, each plaintiff was awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages for hotels, flight, mental anguish, pain, and suffering in addition to $1 million in punitive damages.

The win came after McFarland failed to show up to court for over a year, piling on his current jail sentencing stemming from two counts of wire fraud. These new charges were brought against Ja Rule‘s “tech buddy” since the Fyre Festival incident, alleging he was still scamming people while out on bail. Old habits don’t die quick enough, it seems.

As to whether or not McFarland will be able to pay the plaintiffs, Miller seems optimistic. Despite failing to pay attorneys and crisis management groups for their services, a recent motion filed by federal prosecutors in McFarland’s criminal case suggests he has cash tucked away and makes $40,000 per month from freelance work.

Vice News also reported Crossno recently applied for the expired Fyre trademark, working on a new podcast called “Dumpster Fyre,” where he will discuss his hellish experience in depth.

H/T: Billboard, Vice

Fyre festival founder burns again with fresh ticket fraud charges

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The case of William McFarland is quite the embodiment of the old adage around “leading a horse to water.” Despite going down in flames over the notorious blunder that was Fyre Festival — which collected thousands of dollars from each upper-middle class ticket holder and then thrust them into FEMA-esque conditions — it seems he still is unable to drink the proverbial water and learn from his mistakes.

Reports are now surfacing of a second arrest for McFarland, for once again frauding customers over glamorized events. He also leads a dubious company NYC VIP Access, which sources and upset consumers advise is a firm offering “exclusive” tickets to events like Met Gala, Burning Man, Coachella, and more, and then not delivering after taking their payments. He allegedly collected upwards of $100,000 from over 15 buyers.

NYC VIP Access had been running its operations right before the Fyre fail, in March of 2017, according to current coverage on the debacle. After a failed cover-up attempt to place the blame on another company employee, McFarland is now facing up to 40 years in prison: he’s been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering.

 

H/T: ABC

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The merch is Fyre: A Fyre Festival pop-up shop opened in NYC, and of course it sold out

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Fyre Festival will never die. Thanks to a new group of New York entrepreneurs, anyone lucky enough to have attended the one-night NYC pop-up shop can see that the Ja-Rule and Billy McFarland failure will withstand the test of time — forever sewn into the seams of its very own commemorative merch.

Of course, Fyre Festival’s founder, Billy McFarland, plead guilty to federal wire fraud and has been ordered to pay back $26 million to his investors after duping thousands on the promises of the luxury festival paradise. McFarland also faces up to 40 years on top of $100 million worth of civil lawsuits and it it weren’t already bad enough for the guy, Hulu has been confirmed to be commemorating the disaster in its very own documentary series.

While it remains uncertain as to whether the merchandise is legitimate, or if someone just trying to make a quick buck at the expense of meme culture — the merch is fyre.

H/T: Digg

Photo Credit: Digg

 

Hulu secures Fyre Festival docuseries

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Hulu has secured a new series just days after announcing its intent to release a joint subscription service with Spotify at $12.99 a month, a currently untitled, multi-part documentary focused on Billy McFarland’s infamously mishandled Fyre Festival.

Expected to air in 2019, the docuseries is in developmental stages, overseen by Billboard, Mic, and leading producer, The Cinemart. The Cinemart is memorable for its work on Jay-Z’s TV miniseries, Time: The Kalief Browder Story, and continues to collaborate with the rapper on Paramount Network’s six-part documentary series, Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story.

The series will feature interviews from inside sources, including local Bahamians, the duped attendees who were stranded upon their arrival at the defunct festival, vendors, and investigators. The documentary will additionally offer viewers hours of “never-before-seen footage,” leaked documents, emails, and recordings.

H/T: Hollywood Reporter

Fyre Festival head Billy McFarland pleads guilty to fraud, faces 40 years in prison

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Billy McFarland

Billy McFarland‘s career appears to have officially gone up in flames, the Fyre Festival organizer pleading guilty to two counts of wire fraud on Tuesday, March 6.

McFarland had originally plead not guilty to charges of wire fraud and the admission of false statements to a bank in early October. The Fyre Festival spearhead was arrested back in June of 2017.

“As he admitted today, William McFarland tendered fake documents to induce investors and ticket vendors to put more than $26-million into his company and the disastrous Fyre Festival,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a statement following the entry of McFarland’s guilty pleas.

McFarland will now await his sentencing, which is slated to take place in July. Each of McFarland’s fraud charges bear a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, thus subjecting McFarland to a total possible sentencing of 40 years in prison.

H/T: Billboard

Fyre Festival founder pleads not guilty to fraud charges

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Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland has pleaded not guilty to charges of wire fraud and making false statements to a bank.

McFarland was arrested in June on two counts of wire fraud and two counts of making false statements to a bank after he reportedly defrauded investors in Fyre Media. McFarland allegedly presented fake documents to convince investors to contribute more than $3 million to his company and the Bahamian festival.

In addition to the criminal charges, a number of civil lawsuits have been filed against McFarland and the festival’s other co-founder, Ja Rule, who has not been criminally charged.

Attendees of the late April festival paid thousands of dollars for the luxury event and were promised the “unparalleled best in music, cuisine, design and hospitality on a private island in the Exumas.” When they arrived, however, they were met with the total chaos of a completely underprepared event.

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H/T: FACT Magazine

New details of Fyre Fest founder’s financial mismanagement arise

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Just when it seemed that Billy McFarland’s failed Fyre Festival was finally extinguished — McFarland was charged with fraud — and required to place the LLC under involuntary bankruptcy, the organization of yet another McFarland enterprise has come into question.

Seemingly the next McFarland-run company set to smolder is Magnises, a “members-only concierge service.” Founded prior to Fyre Festival LLC, Magnises marketed discounted concerts and event tickets to its members, with the tickets offered purchased from third-party platforms like StubHub, and then sold to members at what is being called a “significant” loss. McFarland is said to have frequently advertised and sold tickets to events that he did not have tickets to, leading McFarland to either cancel the ticket orders made via Magnises, or to supply tickets acquired through a third-party distributor. McFarland frequently bought the tickets on the same day of the scheduled performance.

McFarland orchestrated the ticket purchase and resale system at Magnises via the use of a Fyre Media corporate credit card, charging more than $1 million in tickets in a four-month period. At least nine other employees had possession of a Fyre Media corporate card, including Ja Rule ad Grant Margolin, Fyre’s marketing director, but the only unrelated charges are those that appear on McFarland’s card. The overlap in credit use is problematic as each company, Magnises and Fyre Media, had different aims; Magnises emerged as a ticket distributing service, whereas Fyre Media was intended to be an app for people to book artists for private events. Charges to a Fyre Media credit card for Magnises activity represent those from an entirely different company.

The new financial developments will hinder McFarland’s case, as the company head will have to now answer to officials regarding the ticket scheme that served as the foundation for Magnises.

H/T: Complex

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