The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a New Zealand man who they say repeatedly coerced hundreds of women into making sexually explicit videos between 2012 and 2019, according to a news release from the agency.
Michael James Pratt is the owner of the pornography websites GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys, the release said. The sites are no longer online. "Pratt has ties to or may visit New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Singapore, Japan, Chile, Croatia, and France," the release said.
Pratt faces charges including "production of child pornography and sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion," the release said.
Pratt and others worked together to allegedly use the internet to recruit women for modelling jobs, the FBI said.
However, when the women would respond, they were told the jobs were for sexually explicit videos. FBI investigators said Pratt and others promised the women the videos would not be posted online, and they would remain anonymous. The women were told they'd receive $3,000 to $5,000 in exchange for doing the videos, the release said.
"However, the videos were indeed posted online, and Pratt's pornography websites made millions of dollars in revenue from them," the FBI said.
"Pratt allegedly paid other young women working for him to act as references to assure these victims that their videos would not be posted online," Special Agent William McNamara with the FBI's San Diego Field Office said in an agency video. "Some of the women were not permitted to leave the location until the videos were made, and some were forced to perform certain sex acts that they didn't want to."
McNamara also said FBI investigators know there are people helping Pratt.
"We know he makes promises to people," McNamara said. "He is promising them gifts and money in return for giving him safe haven and secrecy to continue his criminal behaviour."
Those who have worked with Pratt -- including a bookkeeper, a co-owner of the site and a producer -- have been arrested or appeared in court, the FBI release said.
- by Amir Vera, CNN