LOS ANGELES (AP) — An aspiring actor was indicted Tuesday in Los Angeles on suspicion of running a massive Ponzi scheme that solicited hundreds of millions of dollars from investors for phony Hollywood film licensing deals, federal prosecutors said.
Zachary Joseph Horwitz, who has appeared in low-budget movies under the screen name Zach Avery, was charged by a federal grand jury with multiple counts, including securities fraud, wire fraud and identity theft, the Los Angeles Times reported.
It wasn’t immediately known if Horwitz has an attorney.
From 2014 to 2019, Avery allegedly he lied to investors to secure $690 million in loans to his film company, 1inMM Capital, prosecutors said.
More than 200 investors, including three of Horwitz’s closest college friends and their family members, lost about $230 million, the Times reported.
Prosecutors said Horwitz told investors that their money would be used to purchase film distribution rights that would then be licensed to platforms such as HBO and Netflix.
But instead of using the funds to make distribution deals, Horwitz allegedly operated his company as a Ponzi scheme, using victims’ money to repay earlier investors and to fund his own lifestyle, including the purchase of a $6 million home, prosecutors said.
Representatives for Netflix and HBO have denied that their companies engaged in any business with Horwitz, according to an affidavit.
Horwitz was arrested April 6 on an initial fraud charge and he spent more than two weeks in jail before his release on a $1 million bond, according to the newspaper.