crimes

Christchurch, New Zealand’s Michael James Pratt arrested in Madrid, Spain

Michael James Pratt, 40, of Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand was on the list of 10 most wanted fugitives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States. While running two adult websites, he allegedly he tricked hundreds of women into becoming online porn stars and earned $17,000,000 out of it.

In 2006, Pratt launched an adult subscription service, which was operated by his childhood friend Matthew Isaac Wolfe, now 41, of New Zealand and Ruben Andre Garcia, now 32, of San Diego, California, USA. Their co-conspirators include Theodore Wilfred Gyi, 44, of Rancho, California, Valorie Moser, 40, of San Deigo and Amberlyn Dee Nored, 29, of San Deigo.

Pratt moved to the U.S. in 2009 while Wolfe followed in 2011. From approximately 2013 to 2017, Garcia worked as a recruiter, producer and actor for Pratt’s two websites.

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From 2012 to 2019, Pratt and his co-conspirators allegedly recruited young adult and minor women from the U.S. and Canada to engage in commercial sex acts by force, fraud and coercion. To do this, the perpetrators allegedly posted false internet advertisements for clothed modeling jobs, which turned out to be pornographic productions.

The women were provided false assurances that if they filmed a pornographic video, the video would only be distributed to private customers in Australia and New Zealand and would not be posted online. Some of the victims were not allowed to leave the shooting locations until the videos were completed while other victims were allegedly forced to perform sex acts they had declined to perform and sexually assaulted.

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On November 6, 2019, a federal arrest warrant was issued for Pratt in the U.S. He was wanted on 19 charges including money laundering, sex trafficking, production of child pornography and sex trafficking of a minor.

While Pratt was on the run, a judge in the U.S. awarded in 2020 a total of $13,000,000 to the 22 women who were defrauded. On December 21, 2022, he was arrested in Madrid, Spain while he was staying in a hotel under a false identity.

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