Thursday 8 April 2021 6:03 pm

Hollywood actor Zach Avery arrested over $690m Netflix film scam

A wannabe Hollywood star who has appeared alongside Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf has been accused of scamming investors out of $690m (£502m) to fund fake film deals.

Zachary Horwitz was arrested by FBI agents this week and has been charged with operating a Ponzi scheme.

Horwitz, whose stage name is Zach Avery, is accused of raising funds from investors to buy film rights that would then be resold to Netflix and HBO.

According to a complaint filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the budding movie star falsely claimed to have a successful track record of selling film rights to the two companies, when in fact neither he nor his company 1inMM had ever done any business with them.

Horwitz allegedly showed investors fabricated agreements and emails regarding the purported deals with Netflix and HBO.

The complaint states that the actor offered investors returns of more than 35 per cent and for many years paid supposed returns on earlier investments using funds from new investments.

The SEC further alleges that Horwitz misappropriated investor funds for his own lavish spending, including the purchase of his multi-million-pound LA home, trips to Las Vegas and to pay a celebrity interior designer.

“We allege that Horwitz promised extremely high returns and made them seem plausible by invoking the names of two well-known entertainment companies and fabricating documents,” said Michele Wein Layne, director of the SEC’s Los Angeles regional office. 

“We obtained an asset freeze on an emergency basis to secure for the benefit of investors what remains of the money raised by Horwitz.”

Horwitz has been charged with wire fraud and if convicted could face up to 20 years in jail.

Avery is not a household name in Hollywood. Aside from a minor role in the 2014 war film Fury, his acting credits consist largely of low-budget films with low ratings on IMDb.