LOS ANGELES - A small-time actor has been arrested for running a big-time Hollywood Ponzi scheme, bilking movie investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Zachary Joseph Horwitz, 34, who goes by the screen name "Zach Avery," was arrested by FBI agents on Tuesday. The criminal complaint filed Monday charges Horwitz with wire fraud, a crime that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The actor is accused of touting fake film licensing deals with major studios like HBO, Netflix and others in an attempt to stave off demands for payment from investors. Avery used some of the money to purchase his Beverlywood home, now listed for $6.5-million, prosecutors allege.
According to the arrest affidavit, over the course of about five years, Avery solicited investors to invest in his company – 1inMM Capital LLC.
Avery provided promotional materials to investors that claimed 1inMM Capital offered "safe" investments because "we receive confirmation from each of our outputs indicating their desire to acquire the rights to any title we purchase PRIOR to us releasing funds for the film," the document said.
Authorities said that instead of using the funds to acquire films and forge distribution deals, Avery allegedly operated 1inMM Capital as a Ponzi scheme, using victims’ money to repay earlier investors and to fund his own lifestyle.
A judge set Avery's bond at $1 million, but he will remain in custody until the bond is approved. An arraignment has been set for May 13 to discuss the matter, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Avery's acting credits include "Last Moment of Clarity," "The White Crow," "Farming," and "Curvature." He also was an extra on Brad Pit's war film "Fury," according to his IMDB page.