Actor Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison for Massive Ponzi Scheme

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
February 15, 2022 Updated: February 15, 2022

Zachary Horwitz, an actor who admitted to operating a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison this week, according to the Department of Justice.

In a news release, the Justice Department said Horwitz “raised at least $650 million with bogus claims that investor money would be used to acquire licensing rights to films that HBO and Netflix purportedly had agreed to distribute abroad.” Horwitz pleaded guilty to the charges in October 2021.

According to Monday’s news release, Horwitz, 35, received a 240-month prison sentence and must pay $230 million in restitution.

Prosecutors alleged that between 2014 and 2019, the actor obtained hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for his film company by claiming that the money would be used to purchase distribution rights to movies that would be used to stream on platforms like HBO and Netflix.

Prosecutors said that Horwitz, however, instead used the money to repay previous investors in what they said is a classic Ponzi scheme. He also purchased luxury items and a $6 million home, they said.

“To date, Horwitz, through 1inMM Capital, remains in default to investors on a total outstanding principal of approximately $230 million and his scheme has caused substantial financial hardship to dozens of investors,” the Justice Department said Monday.

Horwitz, who used the name Zach Avery, is known for his work in low-budget movies such as the “Last Moment of Clarity,” “The White Crow,” and “Farming.” He appeared in films as far back as 2009, according to his IMDB page.

“Defendant Zachary Horwitz portrayed himself as a Hollywood success story,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a statement. “He branded himself as an industry player, who, through his company … leveraged his relationships with online streaming platforms like HBO and Netflix to sell them foreign film distribution rights at a steady premium.”

However, they said that he wasn’t really “a successful businessman or Hollywood insider” and “just played one in real life.”

Previously, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said in April 2021 that they obtained an asset freeze against Horwitz and his company in connection to the scheme. Their complaint said neither the actor nor his firm ever did business with HBO or Netflix.

“We allege that Horwitz promised extremely high returns and made them seem plausible by invoking the names of two well-known entertainment companies and fabricating documents,” the agency said in a statement at the time. “We obtained an asset freeze on an emergency basis to secure for the benefit of investors what remains of the money raised by Horwitz.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.