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Fyre Festival Disaster Lands Founder 6 Years in Prison

Oct. 12, 2018
2 min read
Fyre Festival Disaster Lands Founder 6 Years in Prison
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Music festivals: They're not for everyone. Loud, crowded, rowdy — whether your favorite band is playing or not, you want your money's worth, no? Well, for the guests who attended 2017's Fyre Festival, a "luxury musical festival" located in the Bahamas, their four-figure ticket price gave them shoddily assembled tents, bread and cheese sandwiches (not toasted) and overcrowded waiting rooms.

Now, the 27-year-old founder of the event, Billy McFarland, is paying the piper. After being found guilty on all charges, he was sentenced to six years in prison for defrauding investors of $27.4 million as well as creating a completely separate "luxury" concert ticket scam while he was out on bail.

“I can’t believe how wrong I was,” he said in court Thursday. “I can’t believe how stupid I was. I betrayed the trust of my investors, customers, family and the court. My mistakes were severe and they hurt a lot of people.”

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McFarland claimed his conduct was caused by undiagnosed mental illnesses and that he had simply found himself "in over his head." However, his remarks were all but brushed off by US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who concluded that his claims simply did not line up with the facts. For example, he'd made expensive upgrades to his Manhattan apartment and purchased a Maserati while the fraud was still going on.

Fyre Festival was specifically intended to target "status seeking" millennials. Promotion for the event included appearances from celebrities and influencers such as Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Haley Baldwin and more. There were also promises of luxury private jets, gourmet foods and luxury cabanas. False advertising at its finest.

Fyre Festival is just one example of a disastrously planned festival that occurred in the last few years. Tanacon, an anti-Vidcon attempt organized in part by YouTuber Tana Mongeau, yielded similar results of overcrowding and dehydrated, disappointed fans in June 2018. It might be hard to evade these glittery scams, but here are some signs to look out for so you can avoid a ticket might not be all it's promised to be.

Featured image by Patrick McMullan