Hate to break it to all of you festival enthusiasts and influencers trying to make an honest living off using filters to get likes, but it looks like Alienstock, the party scheduled at Area 51 the day of the pretend raid, is just Fyre Festival 2.0. Yesterday, a mere 11 days before Alienstock was set to welcome 10,000+ people to the tiny town of Rachel, Nevada, the event creator, Matty Roberts, has pulled out. The music festival was created after Matty’s joke Facebook event “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop Us All” went viral and he freaked out, deciding it probably wasn’t a good idea to ask 3.5 million people to try and fight the U.S. Government to catch a glimpse of possible aliens. The festival was set to take place on the same weekend and in the same town of Rachel, NV where Matty originally had intended the world to storm Area 51.
Matty had enlisted the help of Rachel native and owner of the only restaurant/bar/hotel in town, Little A’Le’Inn, (lol I can’t) Connie West, to help get everything in order in the tiny town of only 56 permanent residents. The town had concerns about people not realizing how off the grid they really are, with the nearest gas station being 46 miles away and the nearest emergency room 80 miles away. If anything went wrong, help wouldn’t be so quick to come. Matty started getting concerned when Connie didn’t provide proof of anything she had agreed to provide to him, including contracts, proof of deposits, or paper proof of literally anything.
Alienstock was advertised as an alien-themed party in the desert, with EDM music, art installations, surprise performances, and camping. With the organizer dropping out, it seems logical to conclude there’s no way this is happening. The Alienstock website features the disclaimer: “Due to the lack of infrastructure, poor planning, risk management and blatant disregard for the safety of the expected 10,000+ AlienStock attendees, we decided to pull the plug on the festival. The permit holder (Connie West) was given multiple opportunities to provide us with the proof that things expected at this festival were in place. In fact, she refused to provide to us, as agreed upon, contracts, proof of deposits or any paper proof of anything.” The site adds, “We are not interested in, nor will we tolerate any involvement in a FYREFEST 2.0. We foresee a possible humanitarian disaster in the works, and we can’t participate in any capacity at this point.”
However, Connie has no intention of Alienstock not happening. Even though Matty has announced a one-day party in Downtown Las Vegas instead during the same weekend as Alienstock, with amenities like a green pool and a 40-foot-flying saucer, Connie thinks they’ll still be welcoming 10,000 people to her restaurant/hotel/inn…pictured below:
Connie insists she was blindsided by Matty’s removal, claiming he texted her at 3am saying he’s out of the festival along with his partner, event producer Frank DiMaggio, and now she’s out nearly $18,000 from a non-refundable security deposit. She plans on pursuing Matty and Frank through the legal system to get back money she claims to have already spent on the festival. She goes on to say she expects to break even with merchandise, parking fees (that run anywhere from $40/day to $1,000/weekend), camping spot rentals, and through performances she’s allegedly secured from 20 musicians and two comedians. (Did she book them through the Fyre app?)
However, If you go to the Alienstock festival website, there’s seemingly no way to buy tickets for the original 3-day event in the desert—only an RSVP button to the free event in Vegas. According to the Alienstock Facebook, there are currently 613 people attending the Bud Light sponsored event in Vegas, slightly less than the 2 million that originally set out to raid Area 51. While brave festivalgoers can still buy parking and camping passes to Connie’s desert Alienstock, it really seems like a bad idea, kids! I’m sure if all those Fyre Fest people could go back in time and go to a free one-day event sponsored by Bud Light, I’m sure they would. After all, at least Bud Light contains drinkable water.
Images: Giphy; Google Maps (3)
In 2019, it’s old news that we love a good scamming story. But among the “stars” of this year’s scamming news cycle—Anna Delvey, Billy McFarland, and Elizabeth Holmes, to name a few—there’s one clear similarity. They’re all millennial scammers. Now, our generation has been accused of a lot of things: we’re lazy and entitled, we ruin whole industries, and we simply cannot get enough of avocado toast. But maybe we’ve been dancing around the most damning accusation of all. As stories pile up of outrageous con artists born between 1981 and 1996, I have to ask: are millennials the scammer generation?
If we are, I can hardly say it’s surprising. Growing up, I saw a lot of promises about “the right path” be shattered. Our parents told us that college degrees were non-negotiable if we wanted to get ahead in life (no matter how much debt we incurred), while dropouts like Zuckerberg, Spiegel, and Holmes dominated the landscape of professional success. Then Instagram, and the subsequent world of influencers was born, and the idea of blindly taking the expected steps through life began to seem not just uninspired, but downright stupid. Both types of self-made success—from Silicon Valley CEO to future Bachelor contestants—preached the same ethos. If you work 20 hours a day, abandon everything else in your life, and operate with complete confidence in yourself and your ideas, you will find success.
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I was told by a former business partner that I “lacked work ethic and didn’t know the good opportunity I had in front of me.’ I left anyways because I knew deep down in my heart that SERVITUDE NOT MONEY needed to be my sole focus. Under my breath I said, “WATCH ME.” I logged onto FB to find that I was accidentally included on a group message that a former client (whom I REALLY LIKED) wrote to her husband and son saying,“ OMG Paradise?!!! Hasn’t she taken enough of a beating already? ?” It HURT to know that my co-workers, clients, “friends”, OH AND ENTIRE FUCKING NATION judged me. But I knew that one moment in my life wasn’t going to define me nor keep me from the bright future and impact I was going to make in this world. I thought to myself, “WATCH ME GET THROUGH THIS.” My family was worried, my friends were concerned. I was even hospitalized last November because of the DEBILITATING EFFECTS OF ANXIETY AND FEAR I was facing with the upcoming season of The Bachelor. I had zero income, zero savings and now a $12,000 hospital bill that I chose to ignore because I couldn’t emotionally “deal” and it was sent to collections DAMAGING my credit. No money, no savings, no more good credit. Fear crept it and emotionally I was breaking under the pressure. I wrote down affirmations all over my house on post-it notes that when read made me focus on the SUCCESS I WOULD EARN by focusing on language and actions that made me feel empowered. And then I applied them. See, when others were talking and judging I was working because I knew the bigger picture. So, the next time someone tries to cast doubt on your dreams. Smile to them and think to yourself, “Watch me Mother Fucker.” And then go and get to work. xx
Of course, the path of betting on yourself and taking risks is made a lot easier if you have a trust fund to fall back on—and many millennial success stories did. For those of us too stupid to invent our own companies, too ugly to make it on Instagram, or too poor to consider either option, there was the post-recession job market. There, the cutthroat competition (even for internships!) and the increasingly insane demands of office jobs (be available on Slack 24/7! Be prepared to take over anyone else’s job at any time!) made the glittering vision of those “working for themselves” all the more appealing. And when we’re treated to a constant feed of photos of their glamorous lives, and Twitter updates on their successes, frustration builds.
Enter: the scammer. Like every millennial, they were inundated with images of extraordinary success and luxury, and the message that if they just worked hard enough or really believed in themselves, anything was possible. So, our millennial scammers said to themselves: why couldn’t that be me? They dreamed big: McFarland pitched Fyre Fest; Holmes pitched Theranos; and Delvey pitched, well, herself, as a larger-than-life heiress, and to a lesser degree, a $50m private club on Park Avenue. They ensured that the idea looked good: McFarland unrolled his Insta-model ad campaign; Holmes filled her board with incredibly high-profile businessmen; and Delvey lived in designer clothes and luxury hotels. And whenever they were questioned on details, they pivoted the conversation back to the big picture: an end game so attractive that listeners wanted, desperately, to believe it.
While scammers have always existed, what’s really striking about millennial scammers is how grandiose their visions are, and the extent to which they seem to believe their own lies. If people continue to make millions off Instagram—even though we’ve been shown time and time again how much of Instagram is fake—then it makes sense that millennial scammers assume they can cash in big, even if there’s no reality to back up their vision. People are uninterested in, say, the actual science behind improved diagnostic testing, or the exact location of a music festival’s toilets. Those details would never have attracted the millions they raised—only the fully-formed, visually appealing outcome would. In our image-obsessed culture, with the constant refrain of “if you didn’t post a picture, did it even really happen,” we’re essentially begging to be scammed by grifters like these.
Until we begin to mend the rift between image and reality that social media has created, and the concept of the self-made billionaire is unpacked, we should expect more millennial con artists pitching us beautiful lies. Because we grew up in such a broken economic system, where following the expected steps didn’t get us the results we were promised, it was attractive to believe that anyone could transform into an overnight success. But these millennial scammers have proven that until we start valuing expertise and honesty at the same level as we do a good aesthetic, we’re not providing new opportunities to anyone but those willing to lie their way to the top. Right now, the path to Silicon Valley or Instagram success demands a “fake it ‘til you make it” approach. So really, the question shouldn’t be “why are there so many millennial scammers”. It should be “why aren’t there more?”
Images: @coachkrystal_; @betches / Instagram
It’s almost Super Bowl Sunday, and we all know what that means. For most of America, it’s time to throw on your favorite jersey, scream at your TV, and eat your body weight in wings for a few hours. For Georgia businessman Ketan Shah, however, it’s time to pull off a months-long Super Bowl scam, hustling friends and family out of $750K for Super Bowl tickets, and then skipping town. (Hmm, what’s that? A well-to-do businessman taking money from people who trust him for an experience he can’t deliver? Where on earth have we heard that before?)
According to WSBTV2 in Atlanta, Shah owns a digital printing shop and “sits on numerous community boards” in Gwinnett County. He had a “squeaky-clean” business reputation—as all victims of this alleged scam point out—and was generally a well-regarded, active member of the community. Back in November, Shah began collecting payments from these community members, promising them “one hundred level seating,” “access to the concierge lounge and a few pre-parties,” and in one case, “a chance to host an arena Super Bowl event.” Mutual friends and acquaintances started sending Shah down payments, and Shah’s own mother gave him $36,0000. When the time came to deliver on his promises, the victims claim Shah disappeared.
Now, at this point in a normal internet scam, McFarland Shah could’ve just gone dark: stopped responding to emails, blocked all calls, and done his best to make himself untraceable. But since he was literally stealing from friends and family, Shah took it a step further and just f*cking took off, leaving his poor wife, Bhavi, to deal with the consequences. (A woman cleaning up the mess a man created? Where have we heard THAT before?) According to Bhavi Shah, she had no idea her husband was selling Super Bowl tickets. As another fun surprise, Bhavi also discovered after her husband’s disappearance that he had taken out a half-million dollar loan against the business. Wait—you’re telling me this guy is both financially troubled AND a terrible husband? Color me shocked.
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Currently, Bhavi maintains that she has no idea where her husband is, adding that he’s been “roaming all over the town.” Ketan Shah’s family suspects he went to Vegas “as part of a midlife crisis,” but it’s unclear whether he’s there now. Gwinnett County investigators have said “they want to hear his side of the story,” adding that “it’s a very odd situation that you would take people this close to you and scam this kind of money.” I mean, maybe in 2015 it was an unusual situation, but I’d say it’s a growingly popular move nowadays, when 90% of old high school classmates reaching out to you via Facebook are trying to involve you in some kind of pyramid scheme.
Whenever Shah chooses to reappear, the police department seems to have plenty to go on to charge him. His victims have gone to numerous police departments, as well as the FBI, with even Shah’s mother reporting her $36,000 loss to the police. (She didn’t press charges—or anyway, didn’t press charges YET. I’m holding out hope.) In the meantime, his friends and family will be left wondering whether any American businessmen can still be trusted (no). And hopefully, asking themselves why they were ever willing to spend upwards of $20,000 to attend a sporting event. As we dive into this Super Bowl Sunday, let’s all be grateful for not having sons who rob us, and remember to do your research when putting down money for something that sounds too good to be true. In 2019, it probably is.
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Images: tenor; Giphy; girlwithnojob, sodawaterpls / Instagram
If you don’t know who Andy King is, then congratulations on your rich and full social life. For those of us who stayed at home binging the Fyre Festival documentaries like normal people, Andy King is a hero, a visionary, the loyal friend 2019 deserves. He is, in other words, the guy who was willing to suck d*ck for water bottles, when asked to do so by longtime friend and Fyre Festival organizer Billy McFarland. (I feel like people gloss over the fact that Billy asked him too way too much, by the way—let’s all remember that King didn’t come up with this sh*t.) Anyway, King obviously became an internet sensation, with many memes invoking his willingness to do literally whatever it took to get the Fyre Festival attendees their water.
How every girl looks at Colton during the rose ceremony #TheBachelor pic.twitter.com/HDcU2G2nDc
— The Betchelor Podcast???? (@betchelorpod) January 29, 2019
We shared the memes, we laughed at the memes, we pondered what our own minimum threshold is to suck a d*ck, but the question remained: what did Andy King think of his overnight stardom? Well, now we finally have our new meme star’s response. In a video interview with Netflix, Andy King talks about his newfound fame, what it’s like to see himself in memes, and how you can help support Fyre Festival victims.
While I strongly recommend that you watch the whole video, here are some highlights. King kicks things off by announcing that he’d rather not be known as “the Blowjob King.” Fair! Given the option, I think we would all prefer to not have that nickname. Obviously, some of us deal with that preference by not announcing our willingness to bribe government officials by performing sexual acts on camera, but that’s neither here nor there. We also learn that King has never been on social media before this, which is truly shocking. Did he even watch the Fyre Festival ads that were going around before he got on board? Or did Billy burn him DVD copies to watch at home? Knowing Billy, I feel like he probably just showed him footage from last year’s Coachella and promised him it would be the exact same thing, only bigger and better.
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Anyway, King doesn’t know what “trending” means, or how to pronounce “meme,” but knows that he is both of those things. And he would like to use that newfound power to direct your attention to the GoFundMe for unpaid Fyre Festival workers. Consider donating, but also consider just how apt it is that 2019’s first hero is a guy who was willing to suck d*ck to save good people from getting hurt by his rich asshole friend’s terrible idea (yet not willing to insist his decades-younger friend pull the plug on said festival when it got to the point of sucking d*ck for water). Andy King is what we need in 2019, a year in which crazy has boiled over everywhere we look: we need someone willing to act when things gets very, very messy.
Images: realandyking / Instagram; Netflix