A small-time actor has been accused of a big-time scam.
According to a complaint filed this week by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Hollywood wannabe Zachary Horwitz raised over $690 million dollars to acquire the distribution licenses to foreign films and flip them to Netflix and HBO. He promised investors a 35% return.
But federal investigators allege that Horwitz’s business was a Ponzi scheme. He never acquired or sold distribution licenses. Instead he created fraudulent documents and fake emails to mislead investors, according to the SEC.
Horwitz acted under the stage name “Zach Avery.” His most prominent role was uncredited – a medic in the Brad Pitt film “Fury.” He had a larger part in the indie sci-fi film “Curvature,” which Variety slammed as a “derivative metaphysical thriller.”
But despite his fledgling acting career, investigators assert that Horwitz’s fraud financed a lavish lifestyle. He lived in a $5.7 million Los Angeles mansion with a built-in cinema and wine cellar. He spent over $100,000 on trips to Las Vegas and racked up nearly two million dollars in American Express charges.
According to the SEC complaint, “Horwitz began defaulting on outstanding notes issued by 1inMM [his company],” in early 2019 “leaving investors with more than $234 million in unreturned principal.”
Horwitz’s deception continued until last month. On March 12th, he emailed an investor that an HBO deal had gone through and he would soon distribute money.
On Tuesday he was arrested. The SEC froze his assets.