A low-budget film actor was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of running a $ 227 million Ponzi scheme that solicited investors for bogus movie licensing deals, federal prosecutors said.
Zachary Joseph Horwitz, whose screen name is Zach Avery, has been charged with wire fraud, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. It was not immediately clear whether Horwitz had a lawyer.
Prosecutors said Horwitz, 34, told investors their money would be used to purchase distribution rights for films which would then be licensed to platforms such as HBO and Netflix.
But instead of using the funds to secure distribution deals, Horwitz reportedly exploited his company 1inMM Capital as a Ponzi scheme, using victims’ money to pay off previous investors and fund his own lifestyle, including l ‘$ 6 million home purchase, prosecutors said.
Representatives for Netflix and HBO have denied that their companies have entered into any business with Horwitz, according to an affidavit.
Horwitz is to be arrested on May 13.
Horwitz’s credits as an actor include low budget features such as “Trespassers”, “The Devil below” and “Last Moment of Clarity”.
The latter introduced Horwitz (Avery) as a wanderer in Paris who believes that an actress he has seen in a movie could be his deceased girlfriend. He’s “making a pretty good lead,” wrote one reviewer. The film also starred Samara Weaving and Brian Cox.
Here’s a trailer for that film, which was reportedly released digitally in May 2020:
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