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Fyre Festival Founder Billy McFarland Arrested for New Ticket-Selling Fraud

Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland, who pleaded guilty to two counts wire fraud in March, was charged Tuesday with running a fraudulent ticket-selling scam while he was out on bail and faces new charges, federal prosecutors told the New York Times on Tuesday.

McFarland was rearrested Tuesday and charged with earning $100,000 by selling fake tickets to events including the Coachella Festival and the Met Gala through NYC VIP Access, a company he controlled, and attempted to hide his involvement by sending sale proceeds to other people’s bank accounts, according to multiple news reports.

The charges add third count of wire fraud onto the existing two counts, as well as a count of money laundering. Each of the four counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, although, on the initial charges at least, he was realistically looking at a much lighter sentence.

Prosecutors said McFarland, 26, began running the scheme late last year, several months after his arrest for defrauding Fyre investors out of $26 million. They also allege that he may have committed bank fraud and identity theft in the past few months.

“William McFarland, already awaiting sentencing for a prior fraud scheme, allegedly continued to conduct criminal business as usual,” United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on his original charges next week. An attorney for McFarland did not immediately respond to Variety’s request for comment.

The heavily hyped Fyre Festival was to be a “luxury concert” — taking place on a small island in the Bahamas and featuring Blink-182, Migos and Disclosure — but collapsed on in a mess of disorganization on April 29 before it had even started. Far from the luxury accommodations and celebrity-chef-prepared meals promised by its producers —McFarland and rapper Ja Rule — concertgoers were met with flimsy tents, boxed lunches, near-total disorganization and long waits for flights to return to the mainland after airlines began refusing to fly would-be concertgoers to the overcrowded island of Exumas.

One production professional briefly associated with the festival told Variety the event was marked by “incompetence on an almost inconceivable scale.”

 

 

 

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