Federal agents on Friday arrested Billy McFarland, the businessman behind the botched Fyre Festival, on charges of wire fraud.

McFarland’s arrest comes about two months after the event ― which was billed as an ultra-luxurious music festival on a private island in the Bahamas with gourmet catering, supermodels and tickets that cost up to $250,000 ― turned out to be a disorganized mess.

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Joon Kim, the acting Manhattan U.S. attorney, said in a press release Friday that McFarland, 25, “promised a ‘life changing’ musical festival but in actuality delivered a disaster.”

Federal prosecutors believe that McFarland gave investors fake documents  to convince them to invest more than a $1 million  in his company and the festival. Wire fraud charges can carry a sentence of up to 20 years, though McFarland, who has no prior record, will likely receive a lesser sentence.

 Federal prosecutors said that McFarland “perpetrated a scheme to defraud, induce at least two individuals” to invest an estimated $1.2 million in his company Fyre Media. McFarland also is accused of telling investors that the company earned millions of dollars from artist bookings using his company’s app, even though his company earned less than $60,000, and of showing an investor an altered image that said he owned shares of a stock worth $2.5 million when his share was valued at less than $1,500, according to federal charges.

Ja Rule’s attorney, Stacey Richman, told The New York Times that the rapper has not been arrested in connection with the federal charges against McFarland. “We don’t perceive him to be a subject of this investigation,” Richman said.

Aside from the federal charges, multiple lawsuits have been filed against Ja Rule and McFarland.

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Dave Brooks

Founder & Executive Editor at Amplify Media
Dave Brooks has over 15 years experience as a writer, including eight years as the Managing Editor of Venues Today. He started Amplify in 2014 to give the industry its own voice and turn up the volume on live entertainment.
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