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Fyre Festival founder ordered to pay back $26m to investors

'I deeply regret my actions, and I apologise to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down'

Clarisse Loughrey
Monday 12 March 2018 11:34 GMT
Fyre Festival attendees locked in airport 'for their own safety'

Fyre Festival's founder has been ordered to repay the $26 million he admitted to stealing from investors, according to a judgement issued against him on Friday.

Billy McFarland pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud in connection with the infamous music festival disaster, Billboard reports. He was arrested in June, following an FBI investigation, pleading not guilty to charges of wire fraud and making false statements to a bank in October.

McFarland agreed to a plea deal on Tuesday, 6 March; he told US District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald: "I deeply regret my actions, and I apologise to my investors, team, family and supporters who I let down."

"I grossly underestimated the resources that would be necessary to hold an event of this magnitude", he admitted. "In an attempt to raise what I thought were needed funds, I lied to investors about various aspects of Fyre Media and my personal finances. Those lies included false documents and information."

McFarland also faces eight to 10 years in prison and will be sentenced 21 June.

He also admitted to giving fake information about Fyre Media's financial status to a ticket vendor last April to convince the vendor to buy $2m (£1,440,000) in advance tickets.

Set on the island of Exumas in the Bahamas, Fyre Festival was initially described as the "culture experience of the decade" as a luxury event during the last two weekends of April and May in 2017. The festival boasted a lineup of Major Lazer, Disclosure, Lil Yachty, Blink-182, Migos and more.

Promotional video for Fyre Festival

The event was promoted on social media with models like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski trying to lure people into buying tickets ranging from $1,200 to over $100,000.

When concertgoers arrived in the Bahamas, they learned that Blink-182 and Migos had cancelled, and they were stuck in a Lord of the Flies nightmare.

Gourmet food included slices of cheese on white bread and luxurious accommodations included flimsy, leaking tents. The hashtag #fyrefraud began trending after attendees were stranded on the island or in airports on their way to the festival.

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