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Actor charged with running $227 million Ponzi scheme

A small-time Hollywood actor was arrested on Tuesday and has been accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of more than $200 million.

According to the SEC’s complaint, Zachary Horwitz, 34, tricked investors with fake emails that made it appear as though his company 1inMM was in the process of acquiring film distribution rights on behalf of media giants like Netflix and HBO. The SEC said the actor made “materially false and misleading statements” and described himself as an investor with “a wealth of knowledge, reputation, and experience.”

He reportedly currently owes more than $227 million to his defrauded investors, not including interest. The SEC said Horwitz owes two victims of the alleged plot at least $8 million each.

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The SEC states in its complaint that 1inMM has no relationship with either HBO or Netflix and Horwitz instead allegedly used the money that he received to pay off earlier investments, purchase his $5.7 million home and transfer large sums into his personal account, from which he “spent lavishly.”

Examples of his spending cited by the SEC include chartering private jets, buying luxury watches and spending more than $100,000 on trips to Las Vegas.

According to the The Los Angeles Times, Horwitz has worked as an actor for over a decade, working on films such as a 2018 sci-fi thriller "Curvature" and a film called “Last Moment of Clarity.”

Horwitz allegedly targeted "five principal investors" who in turn recruited around 200 other downstream investors who believed they would make a sizeable return based on promissory notes provided by Horwitz. He allegedly told potential investors that HBO and Netflix had "urgent need for new content."

"Investors found it credible that HBO and Netflix had an urgent need for new content, were willing to pay a premium for that content, had the financial ability to do so, and would pay 1inMM in a timely fashion for the rights they licensed," the SEC said.

As recently as March 12, Horwitz was telling investors that payment back on their investments was imminent, claiming funds would be released by April 9.

The SEC has requested that Horwitz be made to return all the funds he illegally raised and that he be charged with violating the Securities Act and the Exchange Act.

The Times reported that Horwitz was released on a $1 million secured bond. His arraignment has been scheduled for May 13.