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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Charges Against Individual For Engaging In A Fraudulent Ticket Scam And Laundering Proceeds Of The Fraud

William McFarland, While Awaiting Sentencing for Engaging in Fraud on Investors of Fyre Media Inc. and Fyre Festival LLC, Made False Representations to Customers of NYC VIP Access and Laundered Fraud Proceeds

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a criminal Complaint charging WILLIAM McFARLAND with wire fraud and money laundering, in connection with conducting a sham ticket scheme in which he purported to sell fraudulent tickets to exclusive fashion, music, and sporting events through NYC VIP Access, a company controlled by McFARLAND, and also caused the fraud proceeds to be sent to others’ financial accounts in an effort to conceal his ownership and control of the funds.  McFARLAND is expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Gabriel W. Gorenstein today. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “William McFarland, already awaiting sentencing for a prior fraud scheme, allegedly continued to conduct criminal business as usual, selling nonexistent tickets to fashion, music, and sporting events.  As alleged, McFarland’s purported exclusive event ticket company, NYC VIP Access, in fact had no access to events for which he sold bogus tickets.  Now McFarland faces criminal charges on top of those to which he already pled guilty.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “In March of 2018, William McFarland pled guilty to defrauding investors and vendors of the Fyre Festival, but it is apparent that he did not stop there.  McFarland allegedly went on to sell fraudulent tickets to many grand events, totaling almost $100,000.  Today’s charges depict our intolerance for such fraudulent activity, and we will continue to diligently investigate acts such as this.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

On March 6, 2018, McFARLAND pled guilty before United States District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald to one count of wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud over 80 investors in Fyre Media and Fyre Festival LLC of over $24 million in losses, and one count of wire fraud with a scheme to defraud a ticket vendor for the Fyre Festival of $2 million in losses.  United States v. William McFarland, 17 Cr. 600 (NRB).  McFARLAND has been on pretrial release since July 1, 2017, and is currently awaiting sentencing in that case.

From at least in or about late 2017, up to and including at least in or about March 2018, McFARLAND owned NYC VIP Access, a company based in New York, New York, that purported to be in the business of obtaining and selling for profit tickets to various exclusive events including fashion galas, music festivals, and sporting events.  NYC VIP Access purported to sell tickets to the following events, among others: the 2018 Met Gala, Burning Man 2018, Coachella 2018, the 2018 Grammy Awards, Super Bowl LII, and a Cleveland Cavaliers game and team dinner with Lebron James.  McFARLAND, while on pretrial release, perpetrated a scheme to defraud attendees of the Fyre Festival and others by soliciting them to purchase tickets from NYC VIP Access to exclusive events when, in fact, no such tickets existed. 

McFARLAND took steps to make NYC VIP Access appear as it if were controlled and operated by other individuals.  In soliciting ticket sales, McFARLAND used an email account in the name of a then-employee (“Employee-1”) in order to hide his affiliation with NYC VIP Access.  McFARLAND provided prospective customers with contracts that falsely represented that NYC VIP Access had tickets to exclusive events in fashion, music, and sports.  In order to distance himself from the operation, McFARLAND directed that Employee-1 sign the contracts between NYC VIP Access and the customers.  After McFARLAND induced customers to wire money for tickets, McFARLAND either did not provide tickets at all, or did not provide tickets as advertised.  McFARLAND charged at least approximately $100,000 in fraudulent tickets to at least approximately 15 customer-victims. McFARLAND instructed and caused ticket sale proceeds to be sent to a bank account belonging to Employee-1, to which McFARLAND had access and control, or a mobile payment service account belonging to another employee (“Employee-2”), for the purpose of concealing his ownership and control of the funds.             

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McFARLAND, 26, of New York, New York, is charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, and one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United State Attorney Kristy J. Greenberg is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1]  As the introductory phase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
18-194
Updated June 12, 2018