[imagesource: IFC Midnight/Everett Collection]
If you recognise that man above, you must watch some pretty average movies and series.
Hey, we all do it. I just started watching Ted Lasso and sheesh, I find the glowing reviews online very difficult to stomach.
Anyway, I didn’t come here to duel with Ted Lasso fans, so let’s stick to the D-movie script and talk about Zach Horwitz, who has spent the past decade or so trying to crack Hollywood under the name Zach Avery.
That’s him above in 2018’s Trespassers, but if you’re getting the impression that he may have been a struggling actor, think again.
As VICE reports, he lived it up thanks to an alleged Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of around $227 million (R3,3 billion).
Last week, 34-year-old Horwitz was arrested, and faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud:
According to the Department of Justice, Horwitz’s company, 1inMM Capital, purportedly bought film distribution rights and sold them to entities like HBO and Netflix, allowing the streamers to offer those movies in Latin America, among other territories.
Horwitz allegedly got investors to give him cash to purchase those movie rights, claimed he sold the rights at a huge profit, and rewarded his investors with a dividend.
But Horwitz never actually bought any movie rights—and he never did business with HBO or Netflix…
Instead, the DoJ and SEC claim Horwitz just borrowed money from one investor, then borrowed more from another, using new money to pay back his old debts, over and over again. In a sworn affidavit, John Verrastro, a special agent with the FBI, called Horwitz’s venture a “classic Ponzi scheme.”
Yeah, that’s about as clear cut a Ponzi as you’ll see.
Sorry, Herbalife and Amway folks, you don’t get to judge.
It’s alleged that, in total, Horwitz raked in around $690 million through his company, and he wasn’t afraid to splash the cash.
His personal account shows $124 582 spent on trips to Las Vegas, $137 072 on flights on private jets, $165 408 on “high-end automobiles”, and in excess of $50 000 on a “luxury watch subscription service”.
Then there’s property:
He also allegedly used his investors’ money to buy a six-bedroom, eight-bathroom house in Beverlywood, a ritzy Los Angeles neighborhood, for more than $5.5 million.
The home (which he recently put up for sale) came complete with a gym, wine cellar, home theater, and private pool.
To spruce things up a bit, he allegedly paid almost $70,000 to celebrity interior designer Lonni Paul—money that, according to the SEC, came straight from his investors.
You can snoop around that property here – the guy’s even trying to flog it for a tidy profit.
Some of the movies that Horwitz claimed to have bought the rights to were decent, but for the most part, they were truly terrible productions.
Take for example 2004’s Monster Island, described by IMDb as follows:
Six friends win a vacation to the Bermuda Triangle and become trapped with only an MTV Crew to help keep them alive. They have to rescue Carmen Electra escape while they all battle the monsters on Monster Island.
Carmen played herself, the movie scored a 3,5 rating, and one user review was headlined ‘Possibly the worst thing I have ever seen on TV’.
In order to make his deals appear legitimate, Horwitz is accused of impersonating executives at HBO and Netflix, and some of the people he is alleged to have stolen money from were good friends he had met at university.
His bond has been set at $1 million, and an arraignment is set for May 13.
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