Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland jailed for six years

Clarisse Loughrey

Fyre Festival organiser Billy McFarland has been jailed for six years by a US judge.

McFarland pleaded guilty in March to two counts of wire fraud in connection with the festival, but then in July also pleaded guilty to two more counts of fraud relating to another ticket-selling scam that he had set up while on bail.

He was sentenced on Thursday in a Manhattan federal court. A judge described him as “a serial fraudster” who had been dishonest for “most of his life”.

“Today, McFarland found out the hard way that empty promises don’t lead to jet-setting, champagne and extravagant parties – they lead to federal prison,” Geoffrey Berman, US Attorney for Manhattan, said. McFarland said he had “betrayed the trust of my investors, my customers, my family.”

Set on the island of Exumas in the Bahamas, Fyre Festival was initially described as the “culture experience of the decade” as a luxury event during the last two weekends of April and May in 2017. The festival boasted a lineup of Major Lazer, Disclosure, Lil Yachty, Blink-182, Migos and more.

The event was promoted on social media with models like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski trying to lure people into buying tickets ranging from $1,200 to over $100,000.

When concertgoers arrived in the Bahamas, they learned that Blink-182 and Migos had cancelled, and they were stuck in a Lord of the Flies nightmare.

Gourmet food included slices of cheese on white bread and luxurious accommodations included flimsy, leaking tents. The hashtag #fyrefraud began trending after attendees were stranded on the island or in airports on their way to the festival.

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