Hollywood actor Horwitz jailed for $650m movie ponzi scheme

Zachary Horwitz, an American actor, was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Monday, February 14.

Horwitz defrauded $650 million in a massive Hollywood ponzi scheme and used the money to fund a luxury lifestyle that included yachts, aircraft, and fast vehicles.

He made up false contracts with HBO and Netflix to dupe investors into turning over large sums of money, which he spent on private flights, automobiles, and a luxurious Los Angeles residence with a wine cellar.

According to the Department of Justice, prosecutors claimed that Horwitz “portrayed himself as a Hollywood success story.”

“He branded himself as an industry player, who… leveraged his relationships with online streaming platforms like HBO and Netflix to sell them foreign film distribution rights at a steady premium.

Hollywood actor Horwitz jailed for $650m movie ponzi scheme

“But (Horwitz) was neither a successful businessman nor a Hollywood insider, as his victims discovered. He’d just finished playing one.”

Horwitz, who played Zach Avery in horror films, informed investors that he was buying overseas distribution rights for American films and then selling them to streaming sites.

The 35-year-old handed each victim a paper promising a significant profit in six to twelve months.

He kept the program going for seven years by utilizing new investors’ money to reimburse the old ones.

More than $230 million had vanished by the time it all went apart.

In October 2021, he pled to security fraud and admitted that he had never purchased any film rights or signed any distribution contracts.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it would be “impossible to fathom a white-collar crime more severe,” prosecutors wrote in a brief to the judge, noting that he began his criminal career by defrauding university buddies.

“He began by breaking the confidence of his own pals, people who let their guard down because they couldn’t believe someone they’d known for years would unflinchingly cheat them and their families out of their life savings,” they said.

Horwitz was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ordered by Judge Mark Scarsito to compensate his victims $230 million.

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