The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to the whereabouts of the Bureau's most recent Most Wanted fugitive Michael James Pratt.
Pratt, a 39-year-old New Zealand national, is the co-owner of San Diego-based pornography website GirlsDoPorn.com and is charged with sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, as well as production of child pornography and sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud and coercion, according to the Justice Department.
"This was a despicable crime that has devastated its victims," U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a Wednesday statement. "The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to combating all forms of sex trafficking. Today’s announcement is yet another important step in our commitment to bring Michael Pratt back to San Diego to face these charges and to seek justice for the victims of these crimes."
GirlsDoPorn co-owner Matthew Isaac Wolfe, 40, of New Zealand, pleaded guilty in July to sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, as well as conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, which can result in a life sentence.
Wolfe admitted to coercing about 100 "models" between the ages of 18 and 23 into making the videos, which he said would not be shared in the United States, and then posting them on the U.S. website GirlsDoPorn for public viewing. He also said he trained cameraman and co-defendant Theodore Gyi on how to shoot the videos – training that included a lesson on how to tell the women in the videos that they would not be posted on the internet.
Wolfe admitted at the time that Pratt also operated a website called pornwikileaks.com with identifying information and social media accounts for some women being filmed. The website was dedicated to "exposing" the true identities of the women appearing in those sex videos, "causing the victims to be subjected to severe harassment," the DOJ said in a press release.
Pratt is accused of participating in a conspiracy to recruit young women and girls to engage in commercial sex acts by use of force, fraud and coercion. He allegedly did so by telling the women and girls that they would be paid $3,000 to $5,000 for a one-day pornographic video shoot. In some instances, however, Pratt and his assistants allegedly locked women in rooms until the explicit videos were filmed and forced some women to commit sex acts that they initially declined to do, according to the FBI.
Pratt allegedly garnered $17 million from his sex-trafficking schemes.
The 39-year-old has ties to or may visit New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Singapore, Japan, Chile, Croatia and France, according to the FBI.
"Locating Pratt is a high priority for the FBI in order to stop him from victimizing anyone else," Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office said Wednesday. "Michael James Pratt preyed on young women and girls and allegedly coerced or forced them through threats and fraud to participate in pornographic videos. He engages in dangerous and deceptive practices wherever he goes, and we will not waiver until justice is served."
Authorities are asking anyone with information about Pratt to contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or submit a tip online at tips.fbi.gov.