A low-level Hollywood actor with a bunch of credits in independent films has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison, after he pled guilty for engineering a massive Ponzi scheme that raised “at least $650 million” and wound up dragging Netflix and HBO into his fraud.

According to a Department of Justice press release, Zachary Horwitz — or, as he was known as an actor, Zach Avery — acquired all those millions of dollars “with bogus claims that investor money would be used to acquire licensing rights to films that HBO and Netflix purportedly had agreed to distribute abroad.” The scheme went on “for a period of more than five years” and the investors included people who were Horwitz’s “personal friends.” All of his claims of lucrative deals with Netflix and HBO were false.

“In reality,” the government says, “Horwitz’s company neither acquired film rights nor entered into any distribution agreements with HBO or Netflix. The purported copies of film licensing agreements and distribution agreements were fake.” Instead, the money he received he used to operate his 1inMM Capital company, repaying prior investors in classic Ponzi scheme style, and buying himself, among other pricy items, a “$6 million Beverlywood residence, luxury cars, and travel by private jet.”

The government began its investigation in 2019 after some of his investors reported him for defaulting on his promissory notes. Horwitz was arrested last spring, and pled guilty last fall. In addition to his jail time, Horwitz was ordered to return more than $230 million to his victims. So crime did pay, at least for a little while, but now he’s the one who’s going to have to pay a looooot of money.

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