The Bahamian restaurant owner who lost $50,000 in life savings after the Fyre Festival fiasco says she was almost scammed a second time when a friend tried to take away half of the money donated to her in a GoFundMe campaign.
Maryann Rolle, who runs the Exuma Point Bar and Grille, gained international attention earlier this year when she appeared in a Netflix documentary about the infamous and widely publicized festival.
Rolle revealed that she was forced to pay local staff working the festival out of her own pocket when Fyre organizers failed to pay her for catering the 2017 event.
Her story prompted an outpouring of sympathy and support and a friend – Pamela Carter – set up a GoFundMe page with Rolle’s permission.
It quickly raised more than $200,000 with donations pouring in from across the world.
But in an interview with VICE, Rolle said the friend she trusted to handle the GoFundMe donations eventually tried to ‘screw’ her over.
‘One of my wonderful friends assisted me by sending up a GoFundMe account,’ Rolle said.
‘When people watched the documentary they contribute – some $5, some $10, some $20,000.
‘I felt very good about it. I realized if you do things from the heart, it pays off.’
The GoFundMe page, which said it was set up by a woman named Pamela Carter in Franklin, Tennessee on behalf of Rolle, has raised $230,000 from 9,000 individual donations since January.
After all the donations kept rolling in, Rolle claims her friend tried to make her sign a contract that would entitle her to half of the contributions.
‘It’s so unfortunate that a few dollars come in the midst of good friendship. I didn’t have a link to my own GoFundMe account because I just trusted that person to deal with this for me,’ Rolle told VICE.
‘So I depend on her as a friend and then she tried to screw me right up by signing a contract that she gets almost a half of my money.
‘Fyre screwed you, you go to GoFundMe, now you get some money this person wants to screw you.
‘It was like a gun to my head: ‘Sign here or you lose your money’.’
Rolle refused to sign the contract and asked for the money to be returned to those who donated it.
‘So I say you know what, let the money go back to the senders because it’s not fair to them. It’s not for me to share,’ Rolle said.
She said GoFundMe stepped in to ensure she would be receiving the donations.
‘They heard my story and they knew it was the truth and they were willing to work with me,’ Rolle said.
Rolle said she was grateful for the support and thanked those who had donated.
‘I just want to say thank you to everyone all over the world… for lending a helping hand to someone when they needed you the most,’ she said.
Rolle also added that she was amazed by her overnight fame as a result of the Fyre Festival and said tourists often stopped by to ask for photos now.
‘I am amazed, I didn’t know I would ever be a celebrity in my lifetime but here I am,’ she said.
She said she plans to use some of the donations to help her restaurant but she will also give some to those who need it on her island. She will also give 10 percent to her church to help those across the Bahamas.
‘They want a few dollars and you know I just want to be able to, if not give them a lot, give them a little,’ Rolle said of distributing the money.
‘It’s not a lot of money but a little is much if you give it from the heart.’
Billy McFarland, the creator of the failed Fyre Festival, was given a six-year prison sentence as a result.
He admitted defrauding investors of $26 million in the 2017 music festival and over $100,000 in a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme after his arrest in the festival scam.