The guy behind last year’s disastrous Fyre Festival won’t stop, can’t stop going in on highly questionable ventures

On Monday, 27-year-old Billy McFarland was arrested and charged for allegedly selling fake tickets to a smattering of luxury events, including the Met Gala and Coachella music festival, through an elaborate scam. He may not be as well-known as Charles Ponzi or Bernie Madoff, but McFarland is well on his way to becoming a world-famous fraudster.

Before Monday’s arrest, the American “business owner” and “CEO” is probably best known for founding Fyre Media, the company behind last year’s disastrous Fyre Festival, which fell apart due to disorganization and, uh, no musical performers.

The son of real-estate developers,McFarland long claimed he started and sold three companies before graduating from high school in 2010 – one of which involved renting overseas server space to porn sites. According to a source quoted in a 2017 Vanity Fair profile, “At the beginning, he was this young kid, from a nice family out in Jersey. He kind of progressed into somebody who was scamming and lying. It’s sad. You know, when they come to New York, the bright lights, some people can fake it till they make it, and other guys, well…”

McFarland dropped out of Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University, and founded social media platform Spling in 2011, which functioned like an updated MySpace. But when Google+ hit the scene shortly after, Spling fizzled, and McFarland moved on to his next enterprise in 2013: Magnises, an exclusive card for the frat-boy set. The word, by the way, means nothing, as McFarland himself admitted to the New York Post: “The name is made up, but it sounds grand, doesn’t it?” It’s the sort of theme he’d continue schlepping throughout his short career.

Despite interest from financiers, Magnises never evolved past being an access card for an invite-only New York City club where, for an annual $250 fee, members could party and drink all day long in a Greenwich Village townhouse outfitted with an open bar. McFarland claimed his enterprise had 1200 members in 2014, according to Fortune and, two years later, he said it was up to 30,000 and, yet another two months later, 100,000.

But as McFarland attempted to expand elsewhere in the city — rumour had it the company was simply thrown out of the townhouse — he was hit with over $60,000 worth of damages by the landlord, and members began to lose interest as he attempted to bribe them with everything from Hamilton tickets to international flights. But tickets would never arrive and flights were never booked. Eventually, McFarland, too, lost interest and Magnises collapsed.

On to the next venture, McFarland launched Fyre Media in 2015, which he claimed was worth $90 million, according to Bloomberg, but actually only earned $60,000.

It debuted, in partnership with Ja Rule of all people, with its ill-fated “luxury music festival” in the summer of 2017, targeting a similar “exclusive” audience to Magnises. It was promoted via a social media campaign that featured the likes of model Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News


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