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Actor Zach Avery arrested for allegedly running multi-million dollar Hollywood Ponzi scheme

Avery, seen here in Last Moment of Clarity, was arrested on Tuesday (Picture: Metalwork/GEM/Lionsgate/Kobal/REX)

Actor Zach Avery has been arrested for allegedly running a multi-million dollar Hollywood Ponzi scheme.

The 34-year-old, real name Zachary J Horwitz, was arrested in Los Angeles on Tuesday in connection with a Ponzi scheme which authorities allege defrauded investors out of more than $227million (£165m).

According to the FBI, Avery is accused of fabricating licensing deals with Netflix, HBO and other platforms in order to secure funding for his film distribution company, 1inMM Capital LLC.

In a sworn affidavit filed in Los Angeles federal court, FBI agent John Verrastro claimed that Avery then used the funds for ‘personal benefit’ and to make payments to previous investors ‘in the style of a classic Ponzi scheme’.

Avery – who appeared in films including Fury and The White Crow – founded the Los Angeles-based 1inMM Capital LLC in 2013, which he allegedly claimed distributed English films to the Latin American market through partnerships with HBO and Netflix.

In 2015, he allegedly sent investors bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label scotch, along with an annual report that said the company had ‘acquired and successfully distributed 49 films through the 1inMM Capital banner without incurring a single loss in the process’.

The report included a ‘library snapshot’ of films Avery allegedly claimed that his company owned rights to, including the Jean-Claude Van Damme action film Kickboxer and the 2012 horror The Lords of Salem.

Avery also claimed to have expanded his partnership with Netflix and HBO to distribute films to Australia and New Zealand.

According to Verrastro, the annual report read: ‘With this growth, we have the ability to safely and profitably distribute more than 25 additional films per year, creating ample opportunity for investment and substantial growth of our thriving feature film library.’

The actor is accused of using investments to fund his lifestyle (Picture: BACKGRID)

Verrastro said that investors were allegedly promised a return of up to 40 percent within a year, but as payments were due, Avery allegedly fabricated email correspondence with Netflix and HBO executives to justify delays.

Verrastro wrote: ‘In reality, neither [Avery] nor 1inMM Capital ever engaged in email correspondence with Netflix or HBO, nor did [Avery] or 1inMM Capital ever have any business relationship with Netflix or HBO at all.’

Avery is accused of having defaulted on more than 160 payments since December 2019 and owing investors $227million in principal alone, the affidavit states.

According to authorities, Avery generally paid out the returns until late 2019 by allegedly using funds from newer investments.

Each of the payments was allegedly tied to a single film that Avery and 1inMM Capital claimed to hold distribution rights to and had licensed to HBO or Netflix.

Avery is accused of using the investments to fund the purchase of his $5.7million home (£4.1m), $100,000 (£72,000) on trips and an American Express bill of $1.8m (£1.3m).

Avery is facing wire fraud charges, and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

He appeared in court on Tuesday via teleconference, and his bond was set at $1million (£727,000), but he will remain in custody until the bond is approved.

An arraignment has been set for May 13.

As well as having an uncredited role as a medic in the Brad Pitt war film Fury, Avery has appeared in the thriller Last Moment of Clarity alongside Samara Weaving, and the films Farming and Curvature.

Credit: Original article published here.

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