Back in March, Billy McFarland pled guilty to two counts of federal wire fraud in connection to the Fyre Festival scandal. He’s also had to come up with $26 million to repay those festival investors he defrauded.
However, it appears Fyre Festival wasn’t the only criminal enterprise McFarland was operating. According to the Manhattan US Attorney’s office (via Pitchfork), he was also preying on unsuspecting music fans using a separate yet still elaborate ticket scam.
McFarland is accused of running a sham business called NYC VIP Access from late 2017 up until March 2018. The company purported to sell “bogus” tickets to high-profile events like the 2018 Met Gala, Coachella 2018, the 2018 Grammy Awards, and Burning Man 2018. NYC VIP Access also offered tickets to Super Bowl LII and a Cleveland Cavaliers game and team dinner with star player LeBron James.
McFarland allegedly targeted Fyre Festival customers and then laundered the fraud proceeds to “others’ financial accounts in an effort to conceal his ownership and control of the funds.” Altogether, about 15 customers were defrauded of a total of $100,000; these people either never received their tickets at all or never received the ones that were originally advertised to them.
For the ticket scam, McFarland now faces a new count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Each carries a maximum sentence of 20 years behind bars.
Next Thursday, June 21st, a sentencing hearing for McFarland’s Fyre Festival wire fraud charges is taking place; he faces up to 40 years in prison.
In June 2017, McFarland was arrested on charges of providing false financial information to potential investors of Fyre Fest. 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 to find a post-apocalyptic tent city and little more than bread and cheese provided for their meals.