As the Fyre Festival disaster unfolded live on Twitter and Instagram earlier this year, many stateside observers got their information from a Raleigh, North Carolina blogger who spent $13,000 on tickets to the Bahamian festival. Observers watched as 32-year-old citizen journalist Seth Crossno posted photos of the festival’s empty concierge desk, refugee tents sold as luxury villas and cheese sandwiches where five-course meals had been promised.
Crossno, who goes by the Twitter handle William N. Finley IV was interviewed by countless media outlets about his time on Great Exuma, documenting the disastrous festival and the long, frustrating effort to escape the island and return to Miami. Crossno is now suing the festival’s organizers, including rapper Ja Rule, CEO Billy McFarland and self-proclaimed marketing genius Grant Margolin, accusing the men of a litany of charges including fraud, misrepresentation and breach of contract.
Filed in Wake County Court in North Carolina, Crossno’s attorney William Stacy Miller laid out the case against Fyre in a 46-page complaint, seeking $25,000 for Crossno and fellow plaintiff and friend Mark Thompson.
According to the suit, Thompson and Crossno were promised a private chartered flight but that was downgraded to a Boeing 737 with the promise of “upgraded lodge accommodations, a VIP experience and artist passes for the weekend.” The lodge the men were promised was “advertised as a residence consisting of four rooms and a living area.” Below is a mockup of the villa touted by Fyre.
“When (Crossno and Thompson) arrived to the site, they were shocked to find that, instead of the luxury experience that was advertised, they were greeted with a disastrous and barren area where workers were scrambling to set up the most basic infrastructure,” the filing reads. There was “no security in place and minimal amounts of Fyre Festival workers were available to provide direction or information.”
Thompson and Crossno eventually left the festival site after spending the entire night and morning at the Georgetown Airport, where they were stuck for hours. After getting on and off several planes — there was mass confusion over the flight’s passenger manifest — Crossno eventually boarded a flight and returned home.
In an April interview in Billboard, he said he thought the event was poorly organized but never thought it was an outright scam.
“That implies there was some intent to defraud,” Crossno said. “I honestly think it’s a mix of total incompetence and the people putting it on really sucking at their jobs.”