Fyre Festival Scammer Sentenced To 6 Years In Prison

Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP/REX/Shutterstock.
The final flame of Fyre Festival has been snuffed out, according to The New York Times.
On Thursday, 26-year-old Billy McFarland — the man behind the disastrous scam that was Fyre Festival — was sentenced to six years in prison by a federal judge in Manhattan.
The top organiser of Fyre Festival (who was also sentenced for running a fake ticket-selling business) had defrauded investors and ticket holders by promising a luxury music festival and instead delivering a disaster that social media gawked at for weeks.
In April of 2017, music fans who shelled out thousands of dollars for admission headed for the Bahamian island of Great Exuma for Fyre Festival. The brand-new event was hailed by Instagram influencers and celebrities (like co-organiser Ja Rule) as two weekends of epic island partying, complete with gourmet food and luxury accommodations.
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When the unlucky patrons finally arrived on the island (many others were stranded in Miami due to grounded flights), they learned that this supposedly-epic festival was anything but.
Instead of the glamping experience they were promised, Fyre Festival's "cabanas" looked more like disaster relief tents — and what a disaster Fyre Festival was. Limited access to food, water, and shelter had festival goers tweeting up a storm about how they were woefully misguided into attending.
Blink-182, one of the headliners, canceled their performance last minute, seemingly after hearing of what was happening at the unorganised event. I don't exactly blame them.
Ultimately, the whole affair was shut down, with this statement posted on the festival's website: "Due to circumstances out of our control, the physical infrastructure was not in place on time and we are unable to fulfill on that vision safely and enjoyably for our guests."
Ja Rule also issued a statement after the festival's cancelation, writing on Twitter:
"I truly apologize as this is NOT MY FAULT... but I’m taking responsibility. I’m deeply sorry to everyone inconvenienced by this."
Per The New York Times, McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud after it was revealed that he had defrauded investors of Fyre Media, the company which helped establish the festival that wasn't. In July, he pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud again, this time due to a separate company that he created (while he was out on bail, no less!) which sold fake tickets to events like the Grammys and the Met Gala.
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McFarland also faces more than a dozen lawsuits, because, well... obviously.
Regardless, co-organiser Ja Rule is still #TeamFyreFestival. Well, at least the concept of Fyre Festival.
"I'm not ashamed of Fyre at all. Because man, the idea, it was brilliant. It was fucking beyond brilliant... It was amazing," Ja Rule said during an interview on the podcast Drink Champs, before he admitted: "It wasn't what I dreamed it of being and what I envisioned of it being and what I wanted it to be. It wasn't done properly."
This won't be the last time we hear of the bananas experience that was (or, rather, ultimately wasn't) Fyre Festival. Billboard is reportedly making a documentary about the whole fiasco.
Only time will tell if McFarland will one day receive his own Netflix series a la NYC grifter Anna Delvey or a Matt Damon and Ben Affleck produced film like the McDonald's Monopoly con artist.
We may be wary of all island-centred music festivals moving forward, but man, would this be a fun nightmare to watch unfold from the comfort of our couch.
Refinery29 has reached out to representatives for McFarland and Ja Rule for comment.
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