Actor Zachary J. Horwitz has been arrested in connection with a massive Ponzi scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars. Horwitz was reportedly using the appeal of fake movie licensing deals with platforms such as HBO, Netflix and others in an attempt to curb demands for payments from investors. He is known by his stage name Zach Avery.
According to multiple reports, the 34-year-old actor was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles on a federal charge. He allegedly ran this massive Ponzi scheme. It is said that investors were defrauded out of $227 million. Avery is accused of fabricating emails from HBO and Netflix executives to make it appear as though movie deals were in place. The information comes from a complaint that was filed Monday in United States District Court. FBI agent John Verrastro alleges that Horwitz swindled investors out of large sums of money by convincing them to invest in his distribution company called 1inMM Capital LLC.
John Verrastro laid out the scheme in a sworn affidavit. Per the FBI, Horwitz sent these investors bottles of Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch, along with 1inMM's 2015 annual report. This document showcased a library of 52 movies from his company. They were supposedly distributing these movies in territories such as Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America. The movies listed include 2012's The Lords of Salem and Jean-Claude Van Damme's 80s action flick Kickboxer, among others. It is alleged that Horwitz funneled much of the money from this fraudulent company to his personal income. He was arrested on a wire fraud charge at his home, which is currently listed for sale on Zillow for $6.5 million.
Zachary J. Horwitz, it is said, falsely claimed to have a "strategic partnership" with companies such as Netflix and HBO, who are major players in the business. Specifically, he claimed to have licensing for foreign distribution rights of movies. His investors were promised they would see returns as high as 40 percent within a year. These licensing deals, in reality, were nonexistent. Per the FBI, Horwitz's company has defrauded over 160 payments to various investors. Chicago's JJMT Capital, LLC is said to be his largest investor. The company is owed more than $160 million in principal, as well as $59 million in profits.
As an actor, Horwitz has been working for more than a decade. However, his success has been modest at best. Some of his credits include 2018's Trespassers, 2020's Last Moment of Clarity and this year's The Devil Below. He also has Gateway listed as being in post-production. If convicted, it is not yet clear how much jail time Horwitz could be facing. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexander Schwab has urged to keep Horwitz detained until his trial as he is a high flight risk. Schwab also suggested that Horwitz likely has some of that money stashed away. Horwitz was, however, released by U.S. Magistrate Jean P. Rosenbluth on a $1 million bond. This news was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.