Actor and movie investor Zachary Horwitz, who is sometimes credited as Zach Avery, was arrested Tuesday on charges that he ran a Ponzi scheme that swindled investors out of $227 million.
Horwitz, 34, was taken into custody by special agents with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office reported. Horwitz claimed investors’ money would be used for buying rights to films that HBO and Netflix had signed on to distribute internationally, particularly in Latin America.
Horwitz appeared Tuesday in United States District Court on a charge of wire fraud, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The complaint alleges that Horwitz solicited investors for his company 1inMM Capital LLC, saying he would purchase the regional distribution rights to films and then license the rights to platforms including Netflix and HBO. His promotional materials claimed the company offered “safe” investments because “we receive confirmation from each of our outputs indicating their desire to acquire the rights to any title we purchase PRIOR to us releasing funds for the film.”
But instead he used the victims’ funds to repay earlier investors and buy a $6 million Beverlywood home, according to prosecutors.
Horwitz provided investors with fake licensing and distribution agreements with Netflix and HBO which contained forged and fictional signatures, the prosecutors allege. Representatives for Netflix and HBO denied that they have engaged in any business with Horwitz or his company, according to the affidavit.
The distribution documents for films such as “Bitter Harvest,” “Active Measures” and “Divide and Conquer” were purportedly signed by companies including Sierra/Affinity. Sierra/Affinity also stated in the affidavit it had no business relationship with Horwitz.
The company’s annual report also pictured dozens of films in its “library” such as Jean-Claude Van Damme’s “Kickboxer” and James Ponsoldt’s “The Spectacular Now.”
Horwitz has appeared in several low-budget movies such as the horror film “The Devil Below.” A U.S. Magistrate Judge set Horwitz’s bond at $1 million, with an arraignment scheduled for May 13.