If you haven’t already heard of the spectacular failure that was Fyre Festival, you might have a hard time believing it really happened. The story of Fyre Festival reads like a satire about millennial hubris until you find out how real – and how traumatic – the entire experience was for the unlucky people who attended the fiasco.
Billy McFarland was a young entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Fyre Media – a fledgling New York City startup that was developing an app to allow people to directly book musical acts for parties and events. To promote the app, Fyre Media partnered with rapper Ja Rule to create the now infamous Fyre Festival, which was billed as a luxury music festival unlike any other. It would take place on a private island in the Bahamas and offer exclusive, extravagant experiences and accommodations for all attendees.
Fyre Media hired top models and influencers to promote the festival both in commercials and on their personal Instagram accounts. Tickets to the festival cost upwards of $10,000, with some attendees paying $25,000 or more for a single ticket.
As soon as the guests arrived on the island (not private as advertised) in the Bahamas, it was clear that the advertisements were all smoke in mirrors. Instead of the promised luxury beachfront villas, guests were met with a sea of FEMA-style tents. Instead of five-star, chef-prepared meals, they had rations of pre-packaged cheese slices and bread, not to mention insufficient drinking water and inadequate hygiene facilities. None of the musical acts booked for the event even showed up. Attendees had no way to leave the island for over a day, and no promise of refunds for their pricey tickets.
It has become clear since that disastrous weekend in April 2017 that McFarland and others at Fyre Media knew in the weeks leading up to the event that they couldn’t deliver on their promises for the festival. However, they chose not to cancel the festival or inform ticket buyers or investors of the drastic changes to the program and the misleading advertising.
This was more than just a scam. It was fraud that was way over the top.
– Seth Crossno
Seth Crossno and Mark Thompson are two Raleigh, North Carolina, men who each spent about $13,000 on VIP packages for Fyre Festival. As the event quickly turned into pandemonium, Crossno – who is a popular online personality who goes by the moniker William Needham Finley IV – was using social media to document his disastrous experience.
“This was more than just a scam,” Crossno said of the festival. “It was fraud that was way over the top.”
Instead of joining a class action lawsuit like many other festival attendees chose to, Crossno and Thompson contacted Miller Law Group independently, and Stacy Miller took the case. At the time of this article, Miller Law Group has been the only successful litigation.
Miller and his team worked on the case for over a year, and on June 28, 2018, they appeared in Wake County Superior Court. Judge Keith Gregory heard the case and issued a judgment against McFarland, who was not present for the hearing.
The judgment took into account travel and lodging costs as well as mental anguish and suffering.
“None of this would have happened if we didn’t have Stacy Miller as our attorney,” wrote Crossno in an article for ITB Insider. “I’d highly recommend him for your consumer fraud legal needs.”
Do they plan to collect on that judgment? Absolutely.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of people looking to collect, but we’ll be first,” said Miller.
Miller and Crossno were both featured in the Netflix documentary, “FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened,” and their case has been covered by countless media outlets.