Fyre Festival organizer arrested, charged with wire fraud

Federal agents have arrested Fyre Festival pitchman Billy McFarland on suspicion of wire fraud on Friday, nearly three months after the failed music and lifestyle festival left hundreds of participants stranded in the Bahamas.

Prosecutors said McFarland is accused of misleading investors who poured more than $1 million into Fyre Media, based on misrepresentations of the company's revenue.

A statement from Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim released Friday said McFarland told investors that Fyre Media earned millions of dollars from thousands of artist bookings in 2016 and 2017, but in reality had brought in less than $60,000 from about 60 artist bookings.

McFarland is also accused of providing an altered brokerage statement to an investor that claimed he owned shares of a stock worth about $2.5 million. The shares in question are worth less than $1,500, prosecutors said.

If convicted on the wire fraud charge, McFarland could face up to 20 years in prison.

Pictures and firsthand accounts from Fyre Festival
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Pictures and firsthand accounts from Fyre Festival
Newly surfaced emails show the Fyre Festival organizers were notified of urgent concerns weeks before the festival. https://t.co/ydbUTBbmNL
Here's the "culinary experience" we got for our artists pass at Fyre Festival. https://t.co/Kk9q9uvkX0
The dinner that @fyrefestival promised us was catered by Steven Starr is literally bread, cheese, and salad with dr… https://t.co/GjBxQygxV9
FBI to investigate Fyre Festival, report says https://t.co/cxBvmq9GwR https://t.co/xtOzfD7w8P
One of the kitchens at Fyre Festival. #fyre #fyrefest #fyrefestival https://t.co/gQIpwxrw6S
A view of the luxury food court with some luxury school bus transportation at Fyre Festival. #fyre #fyrefestival https://t.co/XL3PtRw8q0
These are the secure lockers at Fyre Fest. They forgot to tell us we needed locks. #fyrefestival #fyrefest https://t.co/Tqyjqbg2Gy
Food court so lit rn at Fyre Fest. #fyrefestival #fyre https://t.co/sxEX4OduTR
Luxury trash receptacles at the luxury bar (with no beer). No shoes, no shirt, pajama pants, no problem.… https://t.co/aBWohANKnb
The infrastructure was nonexistent, and the festival staff either a skeleton crew or MIA. https://t.co/8Gh6NevsFI
@FyreFraud Just a reminder of what "The Duo" was originally sold as https://t.co/gKz90zNBvu
UPDATE: they are having us sign papers for full refunds. They are just pieces of computer paper but I mean...refunds https://t.co/oNa8EIojl1
Internal emails appear to show there were many warning signs ahead of Fyre Festival. Billy McFarland & Ja Rule now… https://t.co/8nsRzaczKN
The line of ex Fyre Festers at the Exuma International Airport. Yes that's throw up. #fyre #fyrefestival https://t.co/jSZHg0F0Kn
Inside the Fyre Festival fiasco: the reporters who wrote our exposé tell their stories on Popcast https://t.co/fUvLFd97Dy
Here are a few pics of the luxury cuisine options. The food on the right was pretty good. #fyrefestival https://t.co/aJkxtypQND
The luxury stage was so lit. Sadly, there was no beer at the luxury bar. They didn't run out. They never had any to… https://t.co/gw6l49sPKo
Luggage pickup was great. They brought the bags in and guests got to unload them for fun. In the dark. It built cha… https://t.co/AaRS25p3JY
They finally opened the doors to let some air in. The guy is ok. #fyrefestival https://t.co/D7j5qtzsGi
Also, we found a notebook from one of the Fyre Fest planners on the ground. It is amazing. #fyrefestival #fyre https://t.co/jFib0nO2RW

The Fyre Festival was pitched as a premium luxury music and arts event where participants would be treated to private air travel and beachside accommodations. Tickets started at $1,200 with some reportedly paying close to or more than $100,000 for the weekend.

Billed as something similar to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Fyre was supposed to take place over two weekends in April and May. Participants in April quickly found themselves stranded on the island with little food or water, and, at times, no electricity.

McFarland and his co-organizer, rapper Ja Rule reportedly borrowed millions of dollars as they scrambled to get the festival up and running. Both are now facing severallawsuits over the failed event.

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