Talk:Billy McFarland (fraudster)

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Inaccurate Title[edit]

Billy McFarland is not an entrepreneur. He is a convicted criminal/fraudster. This Wikipedia page is inaccurate in title and in the introductory paragraph. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mcullen1128 (talkcontribs) 18:08, 25 June 2018 (UTC)

You moved the article once and were reverted, so thanks for opening a discussion this time around. Upon conviction of a crime, a person doesn't necessarily stop being notable for whatever they were notable for before. More to the point, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a news site, and the way by which a name is disambiguated for the purposes of titling doesn't necessarily change because they've pleaded guilty to something. Do you have a conflict of interest regarding the topic, by any chance? RivertorchFIREWATER 20:47, 25 June 2018 (UTC)
Your argument does not fly. He is most notable for being a con artist, not an entrepreneur, so the lemma should be "Billy McFarland (con artist). Bonomont (talk) 00:42, 25 July 2018 (UTC)
I agree with Bonomont. Virtually all of McFarland's work falls into the category of a criminal and not a legitimate business person. As such, the page title should be changed. harryh
I agree with the rest of them, and I'm an attorney. Upon conviction and especially upon incarceration it is not libelous to refer to a person as a convict. A convict convicted for fraud, as McFarland was, is a scam artist. Not only is this not libelous but it is inaccurate to refer to the scam artist otherwise because to do so implies there are "two-sides" to the story, a false equivalency between the truth (indictment and conviction) and something besides the truth. Reading the article and these comments I think it best that the "editor" be reassigned. There are two documentaries about McFarland and his scam, countless highly credible articles, and an inordinate amount of documentation besides the conviction. At this point, the false balance on this page is harmful to Wikipedia's reputation. Michaelo66 (talk) 10:44, 18 January 2019 (UTC)
Agree that article should be moved to con artist. Entrepreneur is not accurate. Raystorm (¿Sí?) 18:58, 21 January 2019 (UTC)
To Michaelo66: Many editors have contributed to this article not just one and there are no assignments on Wikipedia. You're free to make the change you want. Chief Red Eagle (talk) 02:57, 22 January 2019 (UTC)
The page is locked to us ordinary users (or at least it is to me); that's why I ended up here.Michaelo66 (talk) 13:09, 25 January 2019 (UTC)
I also heavily agree. As we now know, he is not an entrepreneuer and has never been one. He is convicted con artist who is barred from being an officer or director for several years. "Entrepreneur" is factually incorrect, as the businesses (mentioned in the article, which are the only relevant ones) were all based on his cons instead of being built with the intention of lawfully earning money. The rights for this article were changed so moving it is not possible for me and most other users. Kulmanseidl (talk) 18:52, 23 January 2019 (UTC)
So what should the disambiguator (the text in parentheses) be? We can't just use Billy McFarland, because that is already taken. Please propose an encyclopedic disambiguator, perhaps linking to examples of similar biographical articles that use the same word. Suggestions already made on this page are "criminal", "fraudster", "con artist", and possibly others. – Jonesey95 (talk) 12:31, 24 January 2019 (UTC)
Fraudster. He has no credibility as a legitimate entrepreneur. Billy McFarland became a household name because of the spectacular failure of Fyre Fest and the laundry list of crimes he committed leading up to its collapse. He was largely unknown prior to the festival-- as entrepreneur, fraudster or anything else. If you're going to put forth Magnises as evidence that Billy McFarland should be classified as an entrepreneur, it doesn't hold up to any real scrutiny. Magnesis was a scam, albeit a less-publicized one, that hinged on promising its 'members' access to exclusive deals that didn't exist. He's no more of an entrepreneur and no less of a fraudster than John McNamara (fraudster). Those with edit access should strongly consider classifying Billy McFarland in the same way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2605:A601:4173:8600:F4FB:83F:6F6A:3F69 (talk) 17:35, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

To add further comment; he has started multiple companies with fraudulent financial statements, lied to investors, been convicted of multiple counts of financial crimes, and when on a bail for the Fyre Fraud; he created a new company under false pretense that sold fake tickets. He has shown no remorse and a pattern of fraudulent behavior. In summary, he is more a criminal than entrepreneur.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Tsmalls1 (talkcontribs) 14:05, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

Agreed. Not an entrepreneur. Likewise, we wouldn’t called Bernie Madoff just a “financier”, in light of full weight of evidence. Genetikbliss (talk) 01:03, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 January 2019[edit]

Billy McFarland (entrepreneur) is clearly not and entrepreneur, but a serial fraudster. The title should be Billy McFarland (fraudster) 2001:BB6:4D06:4958:2DD7:6C8F:9309:8D74 (talk) 02:04, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

 Not done for now: Discussion is ongoing in the section above. – Jonesey95 (talk) 12:26, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 January 2019[edit]

Remove the R from 'grifted' (talk) 03:33, 24 January 2019 (UTC) On July 23, 2018, The New York Post reported that New York socialite Anna Delvey may have grifted four months of free lodging at the SoHo loft owned by McFarland. to On July 23, 2018, The New York Post reported that New York socialite Anna Delvey may have gifted four months of free lodging at the SoHo loft owned by McFarland.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:33, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

 Not done: "Grifted" is the correct word. See the sources, which use the words "scammed" and "bilked" in their headlines. – Jonesey95 (talk) 11:28, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

On the fence about this one... obviously, she is a grifter, but I wouldn’t consider this (staying ones welcome at a friend’s vacant apartment with permission, presumably) to be a clear example of such.

Do we even know the details of this? Was there a lease or rental agreement? Written or verbal. Genetikbliss (talk) 01:08, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 24 January 2019[edit]

Billy McFarland is a criminal; not an entrepreneur. Tsmalls1 (talk) 18:03, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

 Not done: Please contribute to the discussion section above. – Jonesey95 (talk) 19:09, 24 January 2019 (UTC)

Requested move 26 January 2019[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Moved as proposed. Consensus is clear. bd2412 T 03:32, 2 February 2019 (UTC)

Billy McFarland (entrepreneur)Billy McFarland (fraudster) – Billy McFarland is known because of his fraudulent activities promoting and raising capital for his company and Fyre festival. He is not notable for being an entrepreneur, as per WP:NCP, earlier discussion on this Talk page, and in keeping consistent with other convicted fraudsters, like Sarah Howe (fraudster) and John McNamara (fraudster) the page should be renamed to Billy McFarland (fraudster). Aeonx (talk) 01:38, 26 January 2019 (UTC)

Support: if he's an entrepreneur, then so are all street gang leaders. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:34, 27 January 2019 (UTC)

  • Support He is most notable as a fraudster, even though his biography could lay claim to his being a serial entrepreneur. If his enterprises had been legitimate and crime-free, he might be known primarily as an entrepreneur. But that's not what happened. Take note: I have boldly changed the boxed intro to show Billy, not Bill, in keeping with the text immediately below, and more importantly, because multiple sources cited in this article refer to him as Billy; so we should keep that styling. DonFB (talk) 06:40, 26 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Especially with the release of the two documentaries about the festival, that is what he will be remembered as. Gschmidl (talk) 22:03, 26 January 2019 (UTC)
I am also an attorney, and I agree. Montrealguy123. —Preceding undated comment added 05:21, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support He has been convicted and plead guilty to wire fraud [1]. Further, the usual definition of an enterpreneur, see [2] is that a person is assuming most of the risks in their own risk-taking venture, which given the nature of his fraud was never the case: [3]. This has been a repeated pattern, where he has had multiple fraudulent businesses, even as a child [4]. Danjgibbons (talk) 17:02, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose There are hundreds of con artists with Wikipedia articles and none of them have “fraudster” in their title. It’s not neutral. This is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter whatsoever what we think of him. Trillfendi (talk) 19:17, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
Actually there many people that have (fraudster) in the title. The reason is because the individual's name is a disambiguation; using (fraudster) is the Wikipedia standard for distinguishing people who are notable primarily for their criminal/fraudulent activities, as in this case. I actually already gave 2 examples in the Requested move opening (and there are dozens more) of the use of (fraudster) in the title. Aeonx (talk) 20:36, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose. He is a fraudster, and the emotional side of me would love to have that in the title of his article, but I don't think it's the best Wikipedia policy. Perhaps we could compromise and think of a more neutral term than "fraudster"? A word that isn't as NPOV as "fraudster" but also doesn't have the generally positive and successful connotations of "entrepreneur." (I'm certainly not going to lose any sleep if an admin goes with the Support argument though.) I have zero problem with the word being used in the article, for the record. My input is only re the title, which is a topic only coming up at all because there's another notable Billy McFarland with a Wikipedia article. Moncrief (talk) 19:44, 27 January 2019 (UTC) Update: I'm withdrawing my opposition. Looks like there's precedent (see below). Moncrief (talk) 02:28, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
The reason it should be used in the title is that, Billy McFarland as a name is not unique to one notable person on wikipedia, and as a disambiguation case, Entrepreneur is misidentifying the individual. He is far more notable as a Fraudster. There isn't set WP:NBIO criteria for a Entrepreneur and I'm not even sure he would meet the notability criteria other than for WP:SIGCOV as a result of his deceptive and fraudulent activities linked to the Fyre Festival. Aeonx (talk) 20:36, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose I agree that titling the article "fraudster" is not neutral. TIMOTHEVS 20:03, 27 January 2019 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Timotheus1 (talkcontribs)
He is a legally a convicted fraudster; and that is what he is most notable for; and it is the proper English term to use, and used throughout Wikipedia for other disamb cases, saying it's not neutral is disputing the facts. A simple Google search shows 7x more results for "Billy McFarland Fraudster" than "Billy McFarland Entrepreneur". Aeonx (talk) 20:36, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
used throughout Wikipedia for other disamb cases <-- If this is so, then I don't have a problem with it in this case, too. Can you point me to examples where "(fraudster)" is part of a disambiguation title of an article? Moncrief (talk) 20:48, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
Moncrief, Yes. I posted two already above in the opening. Sarah Howe (fraudster), and John McNamara (fraudster); in both the cases of Sarah and John - they claimed to be "business" persons or "entrepreneurs"; there are plenty of others of examples of the use of (fraudster) in the title: Michael Brown (fraudster), Edward Lawrence Levy (fraudster), Kevin Foster (fraudster), John Friedrich (fraudster), etc. Aeonx (talk) 23:30, 27 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Though initially I was against this (didn't vote), it's clear there is precedent, and that McFarland would fit that model.– Broccoli & Coffee (Oh hai) 07:53, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
  • SupportReconditeRodent « talk · contribs » 15:22, 28 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support, no-one really thinks of Billy as an entrepreneur, creative business dealings are just a way for him to scam money off unsuspecting investors and consumers. (talk) 05:06, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support At first I would have thought the term too harsh, but upon looking at the definition and how it's been used in other article titles, and how Billy McFarland fits that definition both in his actions and the public's perception of him, it makes sense. - Mosesintheflesh (talk) 11:52, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support It seems to me that nearly the entirety of his "career" was based around fraud, so the change seems justified. BeŻet (talk) 14:25, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Oppose per WP:BLP. Even if he is a fraudster, this should be a red line we don't cross. I don't like that those other pages have "fraudster" as their disambiguator. – Muboshgu (talk) 19:32, 29 January 2019 (UTC)
Can you refer to the part of WP:BLP, which supports your decision to oppose the requested page move? The term "fraudster" is absolutely factual and neutral, this is a law term, and he was charged and convicted with criminal fraud, thereby he is a fraudster (in multiple cases). Additionally, the fact that you also do not like that other pages include the term is part of a bigger issue and is not a sufficient reason to treat this page now any different than the previous existing ones were treated. Kulmanseidl (talk) 14:48, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support it appears that there is precedent, and I agree with all of the above points made in the previous "support" votes, specifically that he is not known as an enterpreeur, and is best known as a fraudster. I don't feel that there's a "more neutral" term that could be used, nor a more accurate one. Ewen Douglas (talk) 02:06, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support as he may be an entrepreneur, but it has been proven that his most notable companies were founded on fraudulent foundations. --FeldBum (talk) 04:05, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Pablo Escobar is not classified as an “Entrepreneur” on Wikipedia, and neither should Billy McFarland. Billy McFarland became wealthy by means of illegal activity, not entrepreneurship. As Attorney Geoffrey Berman said: “Billy McFarland has shown a disturbing pattern of deception, which resulted in investors and customers losing over $26 million in two separate fraud schemes. Billy McFarland is most known to the general public for his fraudulent activity and conviction and incarceration for fraud. Therefore, the classification of “fraudster” is most appropriate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kellen121 (talkcontribs) 03:42, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

  • support At first I thought, as others have, that this was overly harsh, but then I remembered that it isn't actually up to us, but to what reliable sources say about the article subject. I am reasonably confident that "guy who committed all kinds of fraud" is the common theme. Beeblebrox (talk) 06:42, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Even when leaving personal opinions aside, Billy was convicted of wire fraud. This means he can be named as a fraudster while maintaining the article's neutrality. Nexenhero91 (talk) 09:24, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support "entrepreneur" is flattery in this case and he's a convicted fraudster. We have murderer as a descriptor so fraudster is on the light side of things. Also "Billy McFarland" itself needs to be a disambig. This guy is clearly more notable then the other guy. The only other option is moving this article straight to just "Billy McFarland"; everything certainly makes this guy more long term notable then the Ulster nationalist. GuzzyG (talk) 23:15, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
  • ’’’Support’’’if not changed to (fraudster), at the very least the title (entrepreneur) should be taken down. An entrepreneur is someone who builds something. I’ve never heard of Spling, the first company he founded, the next three business ventures ended in customer failure, loss of money, and in the case of the last two, federal allegations that put him in jail for six years. To try something (a product) and have it flop, having to pay back customers and eat w bankruptcy is one thing, to choose to commit fraud when it’s obvious a product won’t work is a felony. — Preceding unsigned comment added by BardicChick (talkcontribs) 04:02, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support This person has not run a single notable business (not one that is worthy of a mention on his wiki entry) that was not based on fraudulent activities. Entrepreneur gives this person wrong credibility and is highly misleading in this case, since none of the businesses he ran were lawfully lucrating money and we have no reason to believe they ever could have. It is somewhat insulting to actual entrepreneurs to include criminals into this group, after all we could then as well call all sorts of mafia and gang leaders "entrepreneurs" as well. Therefore a con artist and serial fraudster should never be called an entrepreneur from an objective standpoint. If you look at all the articles of convicted fraudster they are not described as entrepreneurs in the opening lines on the wiki articles either, e.g. Charles Ponzi. Lastly I want to point out that the original article and the choice of appending "(entrepreneur)" was all written and decided upon by someone paid to write it. This is publically disclosed, look at the history of the page to confirm this for yourself. This means Billy indirectly paid to be called an entrepreneur on Wikipedia, as which he is still incorrectly listed as of now. Kulmanseidl (talk) 11:59, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Billy McFarland has achieved notoriety not by legitimate means, but by defrauding others. I agree with other comments that if he turns his life around in the future and builds legitimate businesses, then he would earn the title of "entrepreneur". Until then, we should rename it to "fraudster" to reflect reality, however unfortunate that is. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Vecter (talkcontribs) 05:34, 1 February 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Billy McFarland is noteworthy for the creation (and failure) of Fyre Festival, which culminated in a prison sentence for numerous crimes of fraud. Fraudster is not a loaded term. It is a legal one. Describing a very particular individual: "a person who commits fraud, especially in business dealings." The only reason an average person would know about Magnises (which, by the way, also operated on a fraudulent premise) or Spling is because of the increased media attention drawn to him for his criminal activities. Entrepreneur is an inaccurate term in describing McFarland for the following reasons (1) He didn't start a legitimate business, (2) his financial vestment in his projects was substantially less in comparison to funds provided by VCs, (3) he did not do any of the heavy lifting on his projects (this is well supported in both Fyre Fest documentaries) and (4) the PRIMARY reason he is a notable figure is NOT for business savvy, not for launching successful business venture(s) and not for contributing to the world of entrepreneurship in any meaningful way. There are some folks arguing that Billy shouldn't be classified (Fraudster), but saying little as to why his page should list him as an (Entrepreneur). Maybe provide some evidence supporting the entrepreneur label or provide an agreeable alternative? 2605:A601:4173:8600:ED9A:7FA1:6C17:4062 (talk) 16:06, 31 January 2019 (UTC)
  • Support Billy McFarland's legacy is that of fraud not entrepreneurship and therefore he should be recognized as such. A legacy of numerous seedy businesses of questionable legality, bankruptcies, and federal investigations into fraud that led to actual jail-time mean that the title of "entrepreneur" is much more misleading and inaccurate than that of fraudster. SwoleJesus (talk) 20:22, 1 February 2019 (UTC)


I've thought more about this since my !vote (which I am not changing). I do cringe slightly that we as Wikipedians slap such a negative label alongside this living person's name, perhaps to stay there in perpetuity. By way of offering a salve to potential guilty consciences among editors (me included), I offer an idea for future consideration: If he turns his life around after prison and becomes an upstanding and successful businessman in the following five to ten years, the Wikipedia community could re-visit the issue and possibly re-title the article to reflect current circumstances, such as Billy McFarland (Xxx founder). He's a young guy and still has a lot of living to do, so things could change in that way. The article, of course, would still contain all the information about his fraudulent activities in his earlier life, somewhat analogous to Michael Milken. DonFB (talk) 04:34, 28 January 2019 (UTC)

This seems like a very reasonable suggestion. Is there a way to pin this to the talk page so that it is not archived? Ewen Douglas (talk) 14:07, 30 January 2019 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

Anna Delvey[edit]

Why is this under career? At the very least, needs a rewrite to focus on the business. I'll work on it. --FeldBum (talk) 21:56, 29 January 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 6 February 2019[edit]


I would recommend that the title of Billy McFarland not include the "(fraudster)," I would argue that, however, yes he was a fraudster he is not entirely known as a fraudster. On Al Capone's Wiki page, his name isn't followed by (Gangster), even though he is widely known as one. I'm new to this, I just noticed a change I thought should be made. I hope whoever reads this can understand the change I'm requesting.

 Not done: page move requests should be made at Wikipedia:Requested moves. DannyS712 (talk) 19:43, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
This is a result of disambiguation; there is more than one William/Billy McFarland out there. Mwakin21 (talk) 15:23, 12 February 2019 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 25 February 2019[edit]

He attended The Pingry School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Along with Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Nlorenzo (talk) 23:46, 25 February 2019 (UTC)

Not done His brief attendance at Bucknell is already noted in the article. Please provide a source for the other school if you want it added. Beeblebrox (talk) 00:07, 26 February 2019 (UTC)