In June 2017, McFarland was arrested and accused by Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim of providing false financial information to at least two investors from whom he raised over $1.2 million for the festival.
During at least two incidents, McFarland allegedly “perpetrated a scheme to defraud” in order to secure investments for his company, Fyre Media. He allegedly misrepresented the company’s revenue to be in the millions when it actually earned less than $60,000. In a separate event, he purportedly provided an investor with an altered brokerage statement.
The 2017 Bahamas music festival was billed as an upscale boutique experience providing luxury villas and catered meals with performances from artists such as Migos, Major Lazer, Blink-182, and Disclosure. However, festival-goers instead arrived on the island in April to a post-apocalyptic tent city and little more than bread and cheese provided for their meals.
McFarland’s sentencing hearing is set for June 21st. In addition to the criminal charges, McFarland and co-founder Ja Rule have also been named in multiple civil lawsuits — one of which accuses them of running a Ponzi scheme.