Investigators Estimate Victims of Ponzi Scheme Put Nearly One-Quarter Billion Dollars into Company that Has Not Been Repaid
The feds arrested Zachary Joseph Horwitz aka Zach Avery, 34, a Beverlywood man, on a federal criminal complaint alleging that victims put $227 million – investment principal that has yet to be repaid – into a scheme based on false claims their money would be used to acquire licensing rights to films that HBO and Netflix had agreed to distribute abroad, particularly in Latin America. Horwitz is looking at a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Over five years, Horwitz solicited investors to invest in his company – 1inMM Capital LLC – which he claimed would use the funds to buy regional distribution rights to films and then license the rights to online platforms such as Netflix and HBO. Horwitz provided promotional materials to investors that claimed 1inMM Capital offered “safe” investments because “we receive confirmation from each of our outputs indicating their desire to acquire the rights to any title we purchase PRIOR to us releasing funds for the film.”
Instead of using the funds to acquire films and forge distribution deals, Horwitz allegedly operated 1inMM Capital as a Ponzi scheme, using victims' money to repay earlier investors and to fund his own lifestyle, including the purchase of his $6 million Beverlywood residence.
Horwitz apparently started the scheme in 2015, when investment firms began entering into a series of 6-month or 12-month promissory notes with 1inMM Capital based on Horwitz's statements. The funds supplied under each note were supposed to provide money for 1inMM Capital to acquire the rights to a specific film. To convince investors he was legitimate, Horwitz provided investors with fake license agreements, as well as fake distribution agreements with Netflix and HBO, all of which contained forged or fictional signatures. Despite Horwitz's claim of “solid relationships” with online platforms, representatives for Netflix and HBO have denied that their companies engaged in any business with Horwitz or 1inMM Capital, the affidavit states.
Investors started to complain after 1inMM Capital began defaulting on notes at various times in 2019, the affidavit states. To prolong the scheme in the wake of mounting defaults, Horwitz provided excuses that were purportedly given by Netflix and HBO, forwarding to investors spoofed correspondence with Netflix and HBO in which Horwitz again fraudulently used the identities of Netflix or HBO employees. Private investment firms transferred about $227 million to 1inMM Capital pursuant to promissory notes since late 2018. Horwitz, through 1inMM Capital, allegedly has defaulted on all these underlying notes.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.