Scammer Arrested In $227M Film Ponzi Scheme Involving Netflix and HBO
Zachary Horwitz, a man who operated under the alias “Zach Avery,” has been taken into custody under criminal charges of scamming investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. No, it's not the latest logline for a streaming crime series — it’s real life. Netflix and HBO assisted the feds in tracking down Horwitz, who could now face up to 20 years in prison.
According to Deadline, Horwitz is charged with allegedly defaulting on more than $227 million from backers who were promised licensing rights to HBO and Netflix films in Latin America. “In reality, neither Horwitz nor 1inMM Capital ever engaged in email correspondence with Netflix or HBO, nor did Horwitz 1inMM Capital ever have any business relationship with Netflix or HBO at all,” said an April 5 affidavit from FBI Special Agent John Verrastro. “The email exchanges and licensing agreements were fake.”
Horwitz was able to keep his Ponzi scheme up and running for a number of years, strategically placing money into the hands of investors so as to keep them from asking questions. But in late 2019, his fraudulent production company defaulted on its promissory notes, citing “time-consuming audits” and “corporate restructuring” at Netflix and HBO. Of course, none of that was true.
Melinda LeMoine, Netflix’s Director of Content Litigation, and WarnerMedia’s Senior Litigation Administrator Patrick Younan were both involved in shutting down Horwitz’s counterfeit company. They denied any sort of collaboration between 1inMM and Netflix and HBO, confirming that any such email correspondence was forged.
An arraignment is on the court calendar for May 13, after which we’ll learn more about how this case unfolds.
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