One of the FBI’s top 10 most wanted fugitives was arrested in Spain on Wednesday after being charged with a slew of sex crimes related to his GirlsDoPorn website three years ago, according to local reports.
New Zealand national Michael James Pratt, 40, was caught by authorities after checking into a hotel in Madrid using one of his known false identities, El Español reports. On Friday, Spain’s National Police Corps released a video of the arrest on Twitter. While the agency did not name Pratt, it described the suspect as being a “New Zealand fugitive” in the FBI’s top 10 most wanted—Pratt is the only Kiwi currently on the list.
Pratt was added to the FBI’s list of its top 10 most wanted fugitives in September over his alleged involvement in sex trafficking and the production of child pornography. The agency was offering a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest on charges stemming through two porn websites GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys.
Between 2012 and 2019, he and others allegedly ran a conspiracy that sought to recruit both young adult women and minors to take part in sex acts “by force, fraud and coercion,” according to the FBI. Pratt and his co-conspirators are accused of duping women from both the U.S. and Canada by posting advertisements for clothed modeling jobs that victims only later realized were pornography shoots. Pratt allegedly employed other women to “act as references” and give victims “false assurances to the women that, if they filmed a pornographic video, the video would not be posted online.”
“Some women were allegedly not permitted to leave the shooting locations until the videos were completed, others were allegedly forced to perform sex acts they had declined to perform, and some women were allegedly sexually assaulted,” the FBI says, adding that his Pratt’s pornography empire generated over $17 million in revenue.
A federal arrest warrant for his arrest was issued in November 2019. He faces charges including conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion; production of child pornography; sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud and coercion, and more.
“This was a despicable crime that has devastated its victims,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in September when Pratt was added to the most wanted list.
“Michael James Pratt preyed on young women and girls and allegedly coerced or forced them through threats and fraud to participate in pornographic videos,” Special Agent in Charge Stacey Moy of the FBI’s San Diego Field Office added at the time. “He engages in dangerous and deceptive practices wherever he goes, and we will not waiver until justice is served.”
Some of Pratt’s alleged conspirators had already been arrested, including adult performer and producer Ruben Garcia. He was sentenced to 20 years in June 2021 after pleading guilty to sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. In July this year, Matthew Isaac Wolfe pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking for his involvement in the GirlsDoPorn scheme. In January 2019, a San Diego judge in a civil case against the the company awarded 22 unnamed victims a total of $12.775 million in compensatory and punitive damages.