September 30, 2022

Charlie Doodle

Unique Art & Entertainment

‘Fyre Festival of pizza’ organizer pays hefty price in NYC scam

2 min read

The organizer of the “Fyre Festival of Pizza” — who burned attendees by charging $75 for tiny slices of pie — has been banned from organizing festivals in New York and must pay over $300,000 in restitution, according to officials.

Ishmael Osekre was accused of scamming thousands of people into buying tickets for 2016’s New York City African Food Festival and 2017’s New York City Pizza and Burger Festivals — and then never delivering on the promised entertainment and grub, the New York Attorney General’s Office said Thursday.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Francois Rivera last month signed a court order banning Osekre from any involvement in events and festivals in New York and ordered him to pay $311,398 in restitution and penalties — with $111,198 going to duped customers and $150,000 going to the state, the AG said.

Osekre must put down a $500,000 bond — and repay the restitution and penalties in full — if he wants to participate in organizing any future events.

“Ishmael Osekre’s fraudulent schemes were an epic recipe for disaster that scammed New Yorkers out of their time and money,” said AG Letitia James said in a prepared statement. “Today’s order bans this shameless individual from ever carrying out this type of illegal business in our state.”

Tiny pizza slice.
One of the “tiny little slivers of pizza” served at the New York Pizza Festival in Brooklyn.

Attendees of the pizza and burger events held in Brooklyn on September 9, 2017 complained of only receiving “tiny little slivers of pizza” after shelling out $55 to $75 for tickets that they bought on websites including EventBrite and GoldStar. They also said that there were no burgers at all at the event.

The AG’s office said that customers bought the tickets — that included VIP packages, drinks, games and other entertainment — believing false online ads that toted unlimited food samples.

Then-AG Eric Schneiderman opened up an investigation over the botched events in October 2017 following outrage on social media and complaints to the office.

Pizza festival.
The site for the pizza festival was full of empty promises.
Matthew Eubank

Days later, Osekre promised refunds to all event-goers.

He allegedly carried out a similar scheme the year prior with the African Food Festival where $100,000-worth of tickets were sold. Osekre allegedly kept all the money for himself rather than holding the event.

The ticket websites refunded the cost of tickets to over 1,100 buyers following a flood of complaints, officials alleged.

Tiny slices of pizza.
Ishmael Osekre was ordered to pay $311,398 in restitution and penalties, with $111,198 going to duped customers and $150,000 going to the state of New York.

The AG’s office filed a case against Osekre and his company African Food Festival LLC, in August 2019. After, Osekre failed to respond to the lawsuit, Rivera entered a default judgment against him.

Osekre didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

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