D-list actor Zachary Horwitz made millions while starring in relatively unknown, poorly reviewed films like Bitter Harvest and Last Moment of Clarity under the name Zach Avery. His secret, according to the SEC and federal prosecutors? A Ponzi scheme that involved fraudulently selling international-distribution rights to movies, including those he starred in, by faking relationships with Netflix and HBO. Horwitz was arrested on April 6 and charged with wire fraud, with the Los Angeles Times first reporting that he defrauded investors of around $227 million in just principal. According to the Times, he started his company One in a Million Productions in 2013 and eventually boasted films including Kickboxer, starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, among its international distributions. But Horwitz had actually been showing investors fake correspondence (with fake HBO and Netflix email addresses!) and deals with Netflix and HBO, the SEC alleges in a release, while promising returns over 35 percent. The SEC further alleges Horwitz put the funds he fraudulently raised toward an expensive Beverlywood home (which the Times noted is now up for sale) and a “celebrity interior designer.”
The Times reported Horwitz was released on a $1 million bond on April 6 after prosecutors argued he could escape. “The odds that the defendant has some of that money squirreled away are quite high,” said Alexander Schwab, an assistant U.S. attorney.