Actor Sentenced In $227 Million Ponzi Scheme For Phony Film Licensing Deals

A low-budget film actor was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in relation to a massive Ponzi scheme that solicited hundreds of millions of dollars involving phony film rights, NBC News reports.

Zachary Joseph Horwitz, who appeared in low-budget films under the name “Zach Avery,” pleaded guilty in relation to federal charges with multiple counts including securities fraud, wire fraud and identity theft in relation to a scheme that involved more than 200 investors losing about $230 million.

U.S. District Judge Mark C. Scarsi ruled that Horowitz was obligated to pay the $230,361,884 he obtained during the scheme while metering out the sentenced in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles confirmed to NBC News.

Federal prosecutors told the Los Angeles Times last year that Horowitz lied to investors to secure $690 million in loans to his film company, 1inMM Capital, between 2014 and 2019, which eventually led to the more than 200 investors, including three of his closest college friends and their family members, losing about $230 million.

Prosecutors said Horwitz told investors the money would be used to purchase film distribution rights that would later be licensed to platforms such as HBO and Netflix for streaming services, but instead, the funds allegedly operated his Ponzi scheme, using the victims’ investments to repay earlier investors and fund his own personal finances, which included buying a $6 million home.

Representatives for Netflix and HBO confirmed that they never engaged in any business discussions with Horwitz, according to an affidavit obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Horwitz was arrested on April 6, 2021 for an initial fraud charge and remained jailed for two weeks before posting a $1 million bond.

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