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Actor pleads guilty in $650 million Ponzi scheme that lied about Netflix, HBO deals

The money was swindled with false claims of distribution rights for Netflix and HBO shows. The operation caused more than $230 million in losses.
Zach Avery as Sam Pivnic in 'Last Moment of Clarity' - 2020
Zachary Joseph Horwitz, whose stage name is Zach Avery, plays Sam Pivnic in "Last Moment of Clarity" in 2020.Lionsgate / Shutterstock

An actor behind a Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $230 million with fake promises of film rights pleaded guilty Monday and faces up to 20 years in prison, prosecutors said.

The man, Zachary Joseph Horwitz, 34, of Los Angeles, used money from the yearslong scheme to buy a $6 million house and pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars in credit card debt.

He pleaded guilty to one count of securities fraud Monday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California said in a statement.

Horwitz told investors that their money would be used to secure rights for films that Netflix and HBO agreed to distribute abroad, officials said.

But the money was not going to that, and the licensing agreements and deals with Netflix and HBO were fake, Horwitz admitted in a plea agreement. The companies said they never did business with him or his company, prosecutors said. The overall scheme raised at least $650 million and caused more than $230 million in losses.

"Mr. Horwitz has accepted responsibility for his actions, and today’s plea is an important step in that process," said his attorney, Ryan S. Hedges.

The Ponzi scheme eventually collapsed, and 1inMM Capital began defaulting on promissory notes in 2019. Horwitz used the money coming in to pay off earlier investors and prop up the scheme, according to court documents.

Horwitz used some of the stolen money to buy a $6 million house in Beverlywood, a Los Angeles neighborhood south of Beverly Hills, and paid off more than $300,000 in credit card debt, prosecutors said. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 2.

According to his IMDb profile, Horwitz has 15 acting credits to his name. Four of them are for shorts; about half of them credit him as an unnamed extra.