OK, you know those movies you see in Redbox or on Amazon Prime that you’ve never heard of. Yet they star actors you know, like Bruce Willis or Nicolas Cage? Well, there’s a layer below that, of movies that never even make it to the position of being quickly swiped past.
Those are the kinds of movies which starred an actor by the name Zach Avery. They’re also at play in one of the biggest fraud investigations Hollywood has seen.
Avery was arrested on Tuesday in Los Angeles on accusations he defrauded film investors of as much as $227 MILLION in a cinematic Ponzi scheme.
Federal authorities allege the actor — whose only big studio credit seems to be as an extra in that Brad Pitt war movie Fury — lied to investors about who was interested in the projects his film company, 1inMM Capital LLC, was funding.
Those projects include Trespassers, The Devil Below, and just last year something called Last Moment of Clarity, in which Avery starred opposite Samara Weaving and Succession‘s Brian Cox.
Yeah, we’ve never heard of it either.
FBI agent John Verrastro explained in the affidavit, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times, that Avery was using the money from new investors to pay back the old investors — a classic Ponzi scheme model. Makes sense because goodness knows these movies couldn’t have made any money. We mean, we see a LOT of movies, and we’ve never heard of any of these!
But according to feds, Avery (real name Zachary J. Horwitz) just pretended everything was going great so he could keep funding movies he could star in, along with lots of real actors of course. In 2015 he sent his investors a bottle of Johnny Walker Blue Label along with a fake annual report telling them his company had “acquired and successfully distributed 49 films through the 1inMM Capital banner without incurring a single loss in the process.”
Y’all — beware ANY investment telling you they have never had a single loss.
The report, per Verrastro, also included lies about lucrative deals with Netflix, HBO, and other platforms:
“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.”
He also fabricated emails with those companies to justify delays in the films appearing anywhere anyone could see them. Verrastro writes:
“In reality, neither Horwitz [Avery] nor 1inMM Capital ever engaged in email correspondence with Netflix or HBO, nor did Horwitz [Avery] or 1inMM Capital ever have any business relationship with Netflix or HBO at all.”
So fascinating that investors never actually saw any of these movies and realized the guy they were investing in was putting himself in as the lead. You’d think even new film investors would know you can sell a movie better by putting Johnny Depp‘s name on the cover than Zach Avery’s. If he hadn’t been in the movies, we’d assume this was all just a scam to make money. But we have to guess it may just have been to fuel this one wannabe movie star’s dreams of acting opposite Olivia Munn.
Ironically, this whole wild story would make a pretty inneresting movie. Just, you know, starring a real actor.
[Image via WENN/Metalwork Pictures/YouTube.]