Billy McFarland, the music tech entrepreneur behind the failed Fyre Festival, was arrested at his home on Friday and charged with one count of wire fraud. According to the New York Times, federal prosecutors allege that McFarland participated in a scheme to defraud investors by by misrepresenting his own stake in his company, Fyre Media.
Joon H. Kim, the acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement that fest organizer Bill McFarland “allegedly presented fake documents to induce investors to put over a million dollars into his company and the fiasco called the Fyre Festival.”
Ties To Music Tech
While the Fyre Festival is what brought McFarland to the attention of the public at large and federal investigators, the charges instead stem from his company Fyre Media, which developed a mobile app that allowed promoters and talent buyers to bid on artists.
In the criminal complaint unsealed on Friday, prosecutors allege that McFarland represented that Fyre Media earned millions of dollars of revenue from thousands of artist bookings from at least July 2016 until April 2017. In reality, during that approximate time period, Fyre Media earned less than $60,000 in revenue from approximately 60 artist bookings, prosecutors said.
As well, according to the complaint, McFarland provided an altered brokerage statement that indicated that he owned shares of a specific stock worth over $2.5 million, when in reality he owned shares of that stock valued at less than $1,500.
In addition to the criminal charges, McFarland, and other Fyre Festival organizers including Ja Rule, are facing a dozen civil lawsuits over the collapse of the festival