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Fyre Festival victim recoups more than $100,000 in GoFundMe donations after scam

Over $150K raised for Fyre Festival caterer
Over $150K raised for Fyre Festival caterer 00:29

A Bahamian caterer who accepted a "good faith contract" with the fraudulent Fyre Festival founder Billy McFarland to prep thousands of meals and provide lodging for VIP partygoers —and found herself cooking without pay for stranded festival patrons — has raised more than $170,000 through a GoFundMe campaign.

Maryann Rolle, proprietor of the Exuma Point Bar and Grille, near the site of the disastrous Fyre Festival, said she dipped into her life's savings to pay workers who labored around the clock — even though she herself never saw a dime.

"I do catering on a large scale but I have never pushed myself to do a thousand meals a day. It was something new for me and it was challenging. I was being busy for them and not thinking of me and getting my money," she told CBS MoneyWatch. 

The music event billed as a VIP experience featuring Blink-182 and other musical acts quickly devolved into a barbaric retreat whose "luxury accommodations" included unfinished tents and drenched mattresses. Organizer Billy McFarland, 27, is currently serving six years in prison for a fraud estimated to have stolen $27.4 million from investors. His partner, rapper Ja Rule, insists he, too, was "hustled, scammed, bamboozled, hoodwinked, led astray."

Rolle said she catered approximately 1,000 meals a day in April 2017 and also hosted festival organizers at Exuma Point Resort, which she co-owns with her husband.

"I had ten persons working directly with me, just preparing food all day and all night, 24 hours," she said in the Netflix documentary, "Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened." 

She describes the desperation of her current financial situation as a result on her fundraising page.

"As I make this plea it's hard to believe and embarrassing to admit that I was not paid...I was left in a big hole! My life was changed forever, and my credit was ruined by Fyre Fest," Rolle and her husband, Elvis, wrote. "My only resource today is to appeal for help," they said. As of Monday more than 4,000 people had contributed a total surpassing $131,000 to the couple's campaign.

Rolle told CBS MoneyWatch she honored her contract in hopes that the company behind the failed festival would bring business to the island later down the line.

"I did it because I wanted the event to be a success. I knew if it was a success they would pay me well. They assured me they would pay me well," she said. 

But she was duped. "People would come down and say they were managers and they would wire transfer me the money. I gave them my information and the money was never transferred," she said.

She estimates she is owed more than $140,000, and says she tore through an additional $50,000 in savings to pay her workers. 

Receipts back it up. "I still have them all in the glove compartment of my car," she said. 

Rolle says that for the first time in months she can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The GoFundMe campaign has provided her with a sense of relief and appreciation for the people who contributed to her cause. 

"It makes me feel so happy to know there are people who care. If I get another $50,000, I will be a very happy camper," she said. 

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