Fyre Festival founder will settle fraud charges, pay over $27 million

William McFarland will avoid jail time for the viral disaster fest.

July 24, 2018

William McFarland, founder of the notorious Fyre Festival, will settle fraud charges filed by the Security and Exchanges Commission, the agency announced on Tuesday. McFarland, along with two companies he founded and two former co-workers, will pay a collective $27.4 million to the SEC for "violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws."

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The SEC's press release reads: "McFarland induced investors to entrust him with tens of millions of dollars by fraudulently inflating key operational, financial metrics and successes of his companies, as well as his own personal success."

While investors intended their money to go towards the festival, FYRE Media, and McFarland's social club Magnises, the government charged that their cash instead went towards McFarland's "lavish lifestyle, including living in a Manhattan penthouse apartment, partying with celebrities, and traveling by private plane and chauffeured luxury cars."

Billed as a luxury music festival in the Bahamas, Fyre Festival's launch date in April 2017 was met with cancelled acts, squalid conditions, and general chaos. Soon after, an FBI investigation was launched and ticketholders launched lawsuits against McFarland, who pled guilty to wire fraud this year.

The now-world famous disorder was the result of a festival that was not McFarland's real priority, the SEC's Melissa Hodgman said in a statement. “McFarland gained the trust of investors by falsely portraying himself as a skilled entrepreneur running a series of successful media companies. But this false picture of business success was built on fake brokerage statements and stolen investor funds." McFarland has reportedly admitted to the government's charges and agreed to repay investors.

A Fyre Festival documentary series is currently in the works at Hulu, and will premiere in 2019.

Fyre Festival founder will settle fraud charges, pay over $27 million