LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A 34-year-old Los Angeles actor has been arrested, accused of bilking investors out of a staggering $227 million in an elaborate movie-related Ponzi scheme.
Zachary Joseph Horwitz of Beverlywood — who went by the screen name Zach Avery — was arrested Monday by the FBI on allegations that he convinced several investment firms to give him nearly a quarter-billion dollars over five years that he falsely claimed was being used to acquire global licensing rights to distribute films to streaming services like Netflix and HBO.
He was taken into custody on federal wire fraud charges.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, beginning in 2015, Horwitz used fake promotional material through his company, 1inMM Capital LLC, to dupe investors into giving him money which he told them was going towards acquiring film distribution licenses.
He provided investors with fake license agreements and fake distribution agreements with Netflix and HBO. Both companies have said they had no such deals with Horwitz, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The investors gave him six-month and one-year promissory notes that were each supposed to go towards acquiring the rights to a specific film.
Instead, the money went to his exorbitant lifestyle, including the purchase of a $6 million Beverlywood home, prosecutors said. It also went to repay prior investors.
When he began to default on the notes in 2019, he forwarded investors entirely fake correspondence which he purported to be from executives at HBO and Netflix.
Horwitz made his first federal court appearance in downtown L.A. Tuesday, where his bail was set at $1 million. His arraignment is slated for May 13.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted as charged.
Horwitz’s film credits include “The Devil Below” and “You’re Not Alone.”