The co-owner of the San Diego-based GirlsDoPorn website coerced about a hundred young women into filming explicit videos that he posted online after assuring them that the videos would not be shared, according to the Justice Department.
Matthew Isaac Wolfe, 40, of New Zealand, on Tuesday pleaded guilty 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.
“This crime had a devastating impact on the victims,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a Tuesday statement. “We will seek justice for human trafficking victims in hopes that it will help them reclaim their lives and leave the pain of this experience in the past.”
Wolfe admitted to coercing “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.
On top of it all, Wolfe admitted that GirlsDoPorn co-owner Michael James Pratt, 39, whom authorities are still searching for, 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.
Wolfe, however, continued to assure the women that no one would find out about their identities despite having known about pornwikileaks.com and its purpose.
Even after Wolfe became aware of this, he and others continued to assure prospective models that no one would ever find out about their video shoot or learn their identity.
“Wolfe lied to and preyed on vulnerable young women, subjecting them to years of relentless harassment, fear and mental anguish,” Stacey Moy, special agent in charge of the FBI San Diego Field Office, said in a statement. “Identifying, investigating, and apprehending sex trafficking offenders is a critical part of our mission. We will continue to work with our partners every day to hold these perpetrators accountable for their crimes.”
Authorities are offering a $50,000 reward leading to Pratt’s arrest. The fugitive is charged with not only sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion but production of child pornography and sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud and coercion, according to the DOJ.
Pratt, who is also from New Zealand, 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.
“We believe he is likely still victimizing others. And that’s why we feel it’s important to get him off the street,” Special Agent William McNamara of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office said in an October 2021 statement, adding that officials believe people are “helping” the fugitive.