A Pizza Scam as Large as This Year’s Fyre Fest

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Last week we reported on, what we thought, would be an epic pizza festival. Turns out it was an epic fail.

Described as “a day long celebration of the dough, cheese, tasty sauces and delicious toppings” of pizza, the New York City Pizza Festival was anything but. The idea behind the festival was to have people pay up to $75 to enjoy a day of music, games, and unlimited tastes of top pizza joints such as Artichoke, Best Pizza, Roberta’s, and several others. You would then vote on your favorite after trying them all.

Issues began when the venue, Hangry Gardens, fell through because they had yet to be paid by the main organizer behind the event, Ishmael Osekre, on the day of. Upon arrival, attendees were incredibly disappointed. The event took place in an empty parking lot on Flushing Avenue and small pieces of cold pizzas were given out by event organizers.

One person told Gothamist that the “pictures don’t do it justice, because they look like they’re normal-sized plates but they’re actually cake-sized, like what you’d use for cake at a children’s birthday party.”

#newyorkpizzafestival lol – that's a very #hangry line of people.

A post shared by Kizzle Shizzle (@krg7880) on

Attendees turned to the festival’s Facebook page demanding refunds and calling it a scam. People came from other states for what should have been an all-day event only to be told by Aputumpu (the company in charge of creating the event) on Facebook that “a make-up tasting will be announced shortly.” However, people did not want another tasting, they wanted their money back.

The outrage caught the eye of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and an investigation was opened by prosecutors on Monday. There is also a Facebook page that has been created for those who were scammed called Pizza Festival Scam Victims.

To be clear, no pizza places were advertised on their ticket page, but when we reached out to them they gave us a list of seven vendors. We also reached out for clarification on another event they scheduled for the same time and place, a burger festival. Advertised on Hangry Garden’s website as a “Burger & Pizza Festival” but when we reached out to Aputumpu they gave us two separate links to Eventbrite tickets for each. Spoiler: those who purchased the burger festival tickets were equally as disappointed.

Ishmael Osekre seems have a record of these events, putting on the African Food Festival last year which was also called a scam.

Featured image source [Syl Wai, Facebook]

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