Hollywood actor, Zachary Horwitz has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for running a massive Ponzi scheme that raised at least $650 million from investors in phony bogus licensing deals with HBO and Netflix.
Prosecutors alleged that from 2014 to 2019, Horwitz secured hundreds of millions of dollars in loans for his film company, 1inMM Capital LLC, by falsely claiming the money would be used to buy distribution rights to films that would then be licensed for distribution to streaming platforms, such as Netflix and HBO.
“Horwitz showed investors numerous fictitious documents to substantiate his claimed deals with HBO and Netflix, including numerous fake movie distribution agreements,” according to the criminal complaint.
When investors began to complain, prosecutors said Horwitz used the names of actual HBO and Netflix employees to send fake emails and text messages to reassure investors that their payments would be delivered since they were “on the verge” of closing distribution deals.
However, Horwitz went on to use some of the money to repay earlier investors in a classic Ponzi scheme, prosecutors said. He also used the funds to support a more lavish lifestyle that included a $6 million home, expensive cars, and private jets.
Some of his splurges include $700,000 for a celebrity interior designer to remodel his $5.7 million home in Beverlywood, Calif. He spent $174,000 on Los Angeles party consultant services, $136,000 on Las Vegas casinos, and nightclubs, and $6.9 million in credit card payments to American Express.
More than 200 investors, including three of Horwitz’s closest college friends and their family members, lost about $230 million, authorities said.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said;
“Defendant Zachary Horwitz portrayed himself as a Hollywood success story. He branded himself as an industry player, who, through his company… leveraged his relationships with online streaming platforms like HBO and Netflix to sell them foreign film distribution rights at a steady premium… But, as his victims came to learn, [Horwitz] was not a successful businessman or Hollywood insider. He just played one in real life.”