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The FBI is now investigating the Fyre Festival debacle

L to R: Matthew Assante and Waka Flocka along with Fyre Festival organizers Billy McFarland and Ja Rule in New York City in December. (Photo by Chance Yeh/Getty Images)

The Fyre Festival was cancelled amidst considerable chaos about a month ago, to the dismay of the 8,000 people who purchased tickets for the purported luxury experience. But every new detail that emerges about the ultimate non-event is increasingly more disturbing. Now, The New York Times reports that the FBI has gotten involved, investigating the festival organizers on charges of varies types of fraud and cybercrime:

The endeavor has also become the focus of a criminal investigation, with federal authorities looking into possible mail, wire and securities fraud, according to a source with knowledge of the matter, who was not authorized to discuss it. The investigation is being conducted by the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the F.B.I.; it is being overseen by a prosecutor assigned to the complex frauds and cybercrime unit.


While significant, this announcement is hardly surprising, as 25-year-old Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland appeared to be focused on selling tickets to high-priced events that didn’t even exist. (For example, the event’s now-disappeared website said that the event would take place on a private island that once belonged to drug lord Pablo Escobar.) “Ticket packages included the $400,000 ‘Artist’s Palace,’ with four beds, eight V.I.P. tickets and dinner with one festival performer,” the NYT writes. “But there was no such island or palace. Fyre employees recalled higher-ups inventing extravagant accommodations just to see if people would buy them—and some did, they said.”

Fyre Festival victims include not just the festival attendees who were left stranded on a tropical island without shelter or a way to get home, but unpaid caterers, unreimbursed employees, bands like Blink-182 whose equipment is now stuck in customs, and even a local carpenter who’s out $5,000, resulting in his utilities getting turned off. Most of the NYT article focuses on McFarland, full of odd info like the fact that “he always had a few thousand dollars cash in his swimsuit,” even as “essential production tools, like walkie-talkies, never even arrived.” As this investigation heats up, more of these details are bound to emerge: Until then, there’s plenty on The New York Times website today.

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