LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles man was sentenced today to 240 months in federal prison for operating a Ponzi scheme that raised at least $650 million with bogus claims that investor money would be used to acquire licensing rights to films that HBO and Netflix purportedly had agreed to distribute abroad.
Zachary Joseph Horwitz, 35, of the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, was sentenced by United States District Judge Mark C. Scarsi, who also ordered Horwitz to pay $230,361,884 in restitution to his victims. Horwitz pleaded guilty in October 2021 to one count of securities fraud.
“Defendant Zachary Horwitz portrayed himself as a Hollywood success story,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “He branded himself as an industry player, who, through his company…leveraged his relationships with online streaming platforms like HBO and Netflix to sell them foreign film distribution rights at a steady premium…But, as his victims came to learn, [Horwitz] was not a successful businessman or Hollywood insider. He just played one in real life.”
For more than five years, Horwitz raised millions of dollars from investors, many of whom were personal friends, based on false claims that their money would be used to acquire film distribution rights, which then would be profitably licensed to online platforms such as Netflix and HBO.
But the whole business was a lie….