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A Hollywood actor has been accused this week of defrauding investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars by falsely claiming to buy movie rights and resell them to Netflix and HBO.
Zachary Horwitz, known by the stage name Zach Avery, started attracting investors through his company, 1inMM Productions, in 2014. The pitch was simple: Investors would send money, and 1inMM would purchase the rights to certain films, then the company would sell those rights to Netflix and HBO for a profit, according to a criminal complaint filed in the Central District of California’s U.S. District Court.
Horwitz promised investors extravagant returns, typically ranging between 35% and 45% in either six or 12 months. He described himself as bringing “a wealth of knowledge, reputation, and experience” to these ventures, and allegedly claimed to have a background in acquiring and licensing movie rights from HBO and Netflix, according to the complaint.
Between 2014 and 2019, 1inMM sold investors $690 million in promissory notes, according to the complaint.
But there was one major problem, prosecutors claim. Horwitz allegedly had no business relationships with Netflix or HBO. In fact, 1inMM is alleged to have never sold either company the rights to a single film. Instead, Horwitz allegedly used investors' money for two purposes — to pay back other investors and to finance a lavish lifestyle.
In 2018, Horwitz allegedly used $5.7 million in investor funds to buy a mansion and another almost $700,000 to pay for a celebrity interior designer; that same year, he spent $165,000 on high-end cars, $137,000 on private jet flights and $54,000 on a luxury watch subscription service – all allegedly paid for with investors’ money, according to the complaint.
To explain why his investors weren’t seeing returns on many of their investments, Horwitz allegedly claimed that Netflix and HBO had delayed licensing deals. He had allegedly forged email exchanges with industry executives and produced phony paperwork to back up his claims.
“I believed that if HBO was involved, my investment was safe,” one investor said, according to the complaint.
But the alleged scheme began to fall apart in late 2019. Horwitz began defaulting on his promissory notes, leaving investors with over $234 million in unreturned capital, according to the complaint.
FBI special agents arrested Horwitz at his Beverlywood mansion Tuesday morning on charges of wire fraud, according to a press release by the Central District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s Office. He was released the same day on $1 million bond, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Horwitz has acted in several thrillers and sci-fi films over the past 12 years, according to the iMDB page. His most recent movie, "Last Moment of Clarity," received poor reviews.
“[Directors] Colin and James Krisel and/or actor Zach Avery must be either very well financed or ridiculously persuasive because they’ve managed to pull together a supporting cast and budget for this debut thriller that far exceeds what the script seems to warrant,” reads the opening line to the Guardian’s review.
Horwitz’s attorney, Anthony Pacheco, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by Oxygen.com.
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