Phony 'Hollywood Success Story' Sentenced to 20 Years

Actor Zachary Horwitz, aka Zach Avery, hears his fate after bilking investors in $650M Ponzi scheme
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2021 9:54 AM CDT
Updated Feb 15, 2022 11:21 AM CST
Actor Allegedly Nabbed $690M in Fake Movie Deals
Stock photo.   (Pexels/Edgar Colomba)

(Newser) Update: A Hollywood actor accused of running a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme was sentenced Monday to 20 years behind bars in federal prison, reports CNN Business. Per a DOJ release, Zachary Horwitz (aka Zach Avery), 35, was ordered by Judge Mark C. Scarsi, of the US District Court for the Central District of California, to also pay more than $230 million in restitution to his victims, who were duped in a scheme thought to have raised at least $650 million. Our original story from April 2021 follows:

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has frozen the assets of a Hollywood actor appearing in an upcoming movie with Olivia Munn over charges that he ran a $690 million Ponzi scheme. Zachary Horwitz—who uses the name Zach Avery in film credits—ran a company, 1inMM Capital, that claimed to purchase foreign distribution rights to films, which would then be licensed to platforms including Netflix and HBO, per the Washington Post. But the emails and licensing and distribution agreements he showed investors as coming from Netflix and HBO were forged, according to the SEC. "In reality, neither Horwitz nor 1inMM Capital ever engaged in email correspondence with Netflix or HBO, nor did Horwitz or 1inMM Capital ever have any business relationship with Netflix or HBO at all," FBI agent John Verrastro writes in court documents, per the Los Angeles Times.

The 34-year-old—who appeared uncredited in 2014's Fury and had slightly bigger roles in a few indie films—was arrested Tuesday at the Los Angeles mansion he purchased for $5.7 million in 2018, the Times reports. Charged with wire fraud, he's accused of misappropriating millions in investments to pay for his home, cars, jet travel, trips to Las Vegas, and luxury watches, per the Post. He'd promised investors returns of up to 40% within a year, raising $690 million between 2014 and 2019, says the SEC. As payments came due, he pulled money from new investments or concocted fake emails to explain the delays, per the FBI. The agency adds that Horwitz owes $227 million in principal alone. Assistant US Attorney Alexander Schwab suggested on Tuesday that Horwitz "squirreled away" some of that money as he urged a judge to hold the accused until trial. He was released on a $1 million secured bond. (Read more Ponzi scheme stories.)

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