Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland was arrested Friday in New York and charged with wire fraud after allegedly defrauding investors, the Department of Justice said in a release.
The arrest comes about two months after McFarland and Ja Rule put out a last-minute cancellation of their first music fest that was slated to take place over two weekends in the Bahamas.
McFarland “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.”
McFarland, 25, faces up to 20 years in prison, the maximum sentence for wire fraud. Following an FBI investigation, federal prosecutors allege that he convinced at least two people to invest $1.2 million by providing false information, allegedly claiming, for example, that his Fyre Media company had earned millions of dollars in revenue from thousands of artist bookings. In reality, Fyre earned less than $60,000 from about 60 bookings, according to the release from the department’s U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
McFarland also allegedly provided at least one investor with an “altered” stock ownership statement, “to make it appear that McFarland could personally guarantee the investment.” The altered statement implied he owned shares worth more than $2.5 million, but in fact he owned less than $1,500 of the stock, the department alleges.
McFarland is expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin N. Fox Saturday.