Promoter of failed Fyre Festival arrested for wire fraud

The promoter behind a failed music festival held in the Bahamas was arrested Friday in New York on a wire fraud charge.

Billy McFarland charged with scheming to defraud investors after music festival in Bahamas cancelled in April

Mattresses and tents set up for attendees of the Fyre Festival April 28, touted as an ultra-luxurious event before it was eventually cancelled in the Exuma islands, Bahamas. (Jake Strang/Associated Press)

The promoter behind a failed music festival held in the Bahamas was arrested Friday in New York on a wire fraud charge.

Billy McFarland was charged with scheming to defraud investors in his company, Fyre Media, and Fyre Festival that was supposed to take place on the island of Exuma over two weekends in April and May.

The Fyre Festival was billed as an ultra-luxurious event with headliners including rockers Blink-182 and the hip-hop act Migos. But performers bowed out and organizers were forced to cancel the show.

Acting U.S. Attorney for New York's southern district Joon Kim said McFarland presented fake documents to induce investors to put more than $1 million US into his company and the failed festival.

Tents and a portable toilet were set up for festival-goers during the event, a far cry from the high-end experience they were promised. (Jake Strang via Associated Press)

Kim said McFarland "promised a 'life changing' music festival but in actuality delivered a disaster."

A lawyer who has represented McFarland did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

McFarland and his partner, the rapper Ja Rule, already face more than a dozen lawsuits filed by ticket buyers and investors in the festival.

Rapper Ja Rule was one of the partners involved in the Fyre Festival and along with promoter Billy McFarland, already faces more than a dozen law suits from ticket buyers. (Christopher Smith/The Associated Press)

A lawsuit filed in May in Los Angeles said the festival was "nothing more than a get-rich-quick scam" akin to a Ponzi scheme.

Ja Rule, whose real name is Jeffrey Atkins, has not been arrested.

McFarland, 25, is expected to appear before a federal magistrate judge on Saturday.

He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison if convicted.