Aspiring film actor Zachary Horwitz was indicted on Tuesday for leading what federal investigators describe as one of the most daring Ponzi schemes in Hollywood history.
Horwitz, who has appeared in horror and sci-fi films under the screen name Zach Avery, has been indicted 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 said, he lied to investors to get $ 690 million in loans to his film company, 1inMM Capital.
Horwitz was arrested on April 6 on a first charge of fraud and spent more than two weeks in jail before his release on $ 1 million bail.
Horwitz told investors he was using their money to buy the rights to hundreds of movies and resell them to Netflix, HBO and other distribution platforms overseas, mostly in Latin America, according to the government. But the HBO and Netflix contracts he showed investors were bogus, prosecutors said.
Horwitz was in fact using loans from one group of investors to repay what he had borrowed from another – and was framing millions of dollars to finance his “opulent lifestyle,” according to the indictment.
More than 200 investors, including three of Horwitz’s closest university friends and family members, have lost around $ 230 million, according to the government.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which froze Horwitz’s assets, tried 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 swimming pool, gym, screening room, and wine cellar; $ 165,000 for “high-end automobiles” and $ 137,000 for jet charter flights.
Horwitz has also spent at least several million dollars to fund 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 this money is unclear.
After five years of steadily repaying his investors’ loans with interest and on time, Horwitz abruptly began to default at the end of 2019. As demands for payment and threats of lawsuits escalated, he tried to reassure his lenders that he was working with HBO and Netflix to raise money. owed him.
Prosecutors say he fabricated emails from executives at HBO and Netflix to keep investors at bay, leading to new charges of identity theft.