Hollywood actor indicted for fake HBO and Netflix deals
Aspiring film actor Zachary Horwitz was indicted Tuesday for running what federal investigators describe as one of the most daring Ponzi schemes in Hollywood history.
Horwitz, who appeared in horror and science-fiction movies under the screen name Zach Avery, was charged by a federal grand jury with five counts of securities fraud, six counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. From 2014 to 2019, prosecutors say, he lied to investors to secure $690 million in loans to his film company, 1inMM Capital.
Horwitz was arrested April 6 on an initial fraud charge and spent more than two weeks in jail before his release on a $1-million bond.
Horwitz told investors he was using their money to buy the rights to hundreds of movies and resell them to Netflix, HBO and other platforms for distribution abroad, mainly in Latin America, according to the government. But the HBO and Netflix contracts he showed investors were fake, prosecutors say.
Horwitz was actually using loans from one group of investors to repay what he’d borrowed from another — and skimming off millions of dollars to fund his “opulent lifestyle,” the indictment charged.
More than 200 investors, including three of Horwitz’s closest college friends and their family members, lost about $230 million, the government says.
Actor Zachary Horwitz collected $690 million from investors for movie deals the FBI says were fictitious.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which has frozen Horwitz’s assets, has been trying to track what happened to all the money.
Its initial accounting identified less than $9 million in spending by Horwitz, including $5.7 million for a Beverlywood house with a pool, gym, screening room and wine cellar; $165,000 for “high-end automobiles” and $137,000 for chartered jet flights.
Horwitz also spent at least several million dollars to finance films in which he appeared — among them “The White Crow,” “Last Moment of Clarity,” “Farming” and “Gateway,” according to a person who worked with him. The source of that money is unclear.
After five years of steadily repaying his investors’ loans with interest and on time, Horwitz abruptly began defaulting in late 2019. As payment demands and lawsuit threats mounted, he tried to reassure his lenders that he was working with HBO and Netflix to collect money they owed him.
Prosecutors say he fabricated emails from HBO and Netflix executives to keep the investors at bay, prompting the new charges of identity theft.
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