Zachary Horwitz, 34, stage name Zach Avery, stars in low-budget genre thrillers. He is also, say prosecutors, the operator of a massive ponzi scheme that cheated 200 investors out of $227 million. The alleged hook was fictitious film deals with HBO and Netflix backed by his slim but factual Hollywood resume.
Horwitz sent investors bottles of Johnny Walker Blue Label scotch with the company's 2015 annual report that highlighted a "library" of 52 films his company was supposedly distributing in Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America, according to Verrastro. The roster of films included the 2012 horror movie "The Lords of Salem" and the 1989 action film "Kickboxer" with martial arts action star Jean-Claude Van Damme. Horwitz told investors falsely that he had "strategic partnerships" with HBO, Netflix and other platforms to license the foreign distribution rights. The investors were promised returns as high as 40% within a year. In reality, the FBI said, Horwitz had no licensing deals and diverted much of the money for personal benefit.