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Actor Zach Avery Arrested in $690M Film-Rights Scam

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What You Need to Know

  • The actor and his company allegedly told investors that they were buying film rights, purportedly to resell them to Netflix and HBO.
  • Avery, whose real name is Zachary Joseph Horwitz, is charged with wire fraud.
  • Horwitz spent investor money on a $6 million home and trips to Las Vegas, the SEC says.

Actor Zach Avery, whose real name is Zachary Joseph Horwitz, was arrested Tuesday for allegedly defrauding investors out of $227 million in a scheme based on false claims that their money would be used to acquire licensing rights to films that HBO and Netflix had agreed to distribute abroad, particularly in Latin America.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said late Tuesday that it obtained an asset freeze and other emergency relief in an emergency enforcement action against Horwitz, 34, and his company, 1inMM (one in a million) Capital LLC, for conducting an alleged Ponzi scheme that raised over $690 million.

Horwitz has appeared in films including “The Devil Below,” “The White Crow” and “Farming.”

The criminal complaint filed Monday charges Horwitz with wire fraud, a crime that carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The Los Angeles-based actor and 1inMM allegedly told investors that they were buying film rights, purportedly to resell them to Netflix and HBO, according to the SEC’s complaint. In fact, 1inMM actually had no business relationship with either company.

Since March 2014, until at least December 2019, Horwitz raised over $690 million from investors by selling promissory notes issued by 1inMM, “using fabricated agreements and fake emails” with Netflix and HBO, according to the complaint.

In late 2019, Horwitz began defaulting on outstanding notes issued by 1inMM, leaving investors with more than $234 million in unreturned principal, the complaint states.

Horwitz, the complaint states, “falsely blamed his default on refusals by HBO and Netflix to pay for distribution rights they had licensed from 1inMM and claimed he was engaged in promising negotiations with them to obtain past-due payments.”

Horwitz then misappropriated and misused the offering proceeds, including for the purchase of his $6 million Beverlywood residence, which was recently listed for sale, the SEC says.

Horwitz also transferred some investor funds into his personal bank account, the complaint states.

Moreover, since March 2014, until at least December 2019, Horwitz also spent lavishly from his personal bank account. For example, in 2016 and 2017 alone, Horwitz spent over $100,000 on trips to Las Vegas, the complaint states.

Then in 2018, after purchasing his Beverlywood home, Horwitz made payments to American Express of at least $1.8 million and paid almost $700,000 to a celebrity interior designer.

The SEC’s complaint charges Horwitz and 1inMM with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.

In addition to the asset freeze and other emergency relief granted by the court, the complaint also seeks a permanent injunction, disgorgement, prejudgment interest and civil penalties against Horwitz and 1inMM. The court set a hearing for April 19 to determine if the asset freeze should remain in force for the duration of the litigation, the SEC said.

A U.S. magistrate judge set Horwitz’s bond at $1 million. An arraignment was scheduled for May 13.