A Los Angeles-based actor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after using fake agreements and phony email exchanges with companies like HBO and Netflix to run a $650 million Ponzi scheme based on the lie that he was licensing movie distribution rights to major companies, according to a Department of Justice news release and court documents.

The scheme orchestrated by Zachary Joseph Horwitz from 2014 to April 2021 involved raising at least $650 million from more than 250 investors, many of whom were his friends, based on claims that their money would be used to acquire distribution rights in primarily Latin American movies that then would be licensed to streaming services such as Netflix and HBO, according to the DOJ release and to a 2021 civil complaint filed against Horwitz by the Securities and Exchange Commission.