The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has arrested Zach Avery, Hollywood actor, for allegedly masterminding a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of hundreds of millions of dollars
According to the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), the movie star deceived investors that 1inMM Capital LLC, his film distribution company, has licensing deals with Netflix and HBO.
SEC added that the 34-year-old actor has raised more than $690 million over five years by promising investors returns in excess of 35 percent.
The actor, whose real name is Zachary Horwitz, was arrested in California on Tuesday.
In a complaint filed against the film star, the commission said: “Horwitz falsely claimed to have a track record of successfully selling movie rights to Netflix and HBO when, in fact, neither Horwitz nor 1inMM had ever sold any movie rights to, or done any business with, HBO or Netflix. ”
It also accused the actor of misappropriating investors’ funds for his personal use, including the purchase of his multi-million dollar home, trips to Las Vegas, and payment of a celebrity interior designer.
Michele Wein Layne, SEC’s Los Angeles regional office director, said the commission has obtained the “asset freeze” on an emergency basis to secure what is left of the money invested by people.
“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,” he said.
“We obtained an asset freeze on an emergency basis to secure for the benefit of investors what remains of the money raised by Horwitz.”
The commission thereafter charged the actor and his company with violating the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws.
SEC also prayed the court for “permanent injunction, disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties against Horwitz and 1inMM.”
The court has set April 19, 2021, for hearing over the case to determine if the asset freeze should remain in force for the duration of the litigation.
In a statement, the US department of justice said that about $227 million invested by the victims is still yet to be repaid.
It added that if convicted, the actor faces “a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.”
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