Multimillion-dollar New Zealand porn company operator guilty of sex trafficking conspiracy

0
19

By Ethan Griffiths, Open Justice, Bay of Plenty of . multimedia journalist

This story discusses graphic details of sexual abuse.

A former Christchurch schoolboy who built an American porn empire has admitted to forcing young women – many as young as 18 – to perform in videos that have been viewed more than a billion times.

camera, lens, video camera, photo.

Photo: Unsplash / Ross Sneddon

Matthew Wolfe, 40, pleaded guilty last week to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in a San Diego court — the result of him filming more than 100 porn videos, many of which featured victims being told the content would never appear online .

The FBI is offering more than $15,000 for information that will lead to the location and arrest of a fugitive New Zealand man accused of sex trafficking and producing child pornography.

Michael Pratt remains on the run.
Photo: FBI

Wolfe teamed up with childhood friend and colleague Kiwi Michael Pratt to build GirlsDoPorn, an online porn subscription service.

Pratt remains on the run, presumably abroad. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for information about the whereabouts of the former Christchurch Boys’ High student.

Wolfe’s plea is one of the latest steps in a three-year prosecution led by the FBI, which has already prosecuted two other people involved with the company.

ALSO READ  Third candidate for mayor of Whanganui

The brutal trail of lies began to unravel when 22 women, identified only as Jane Doe 1 to 22, claimed in a civil suit that they had been duped into participating in pornography by repeated assurances that the videos would not be available online. Filing the claim sparked an FBI investigation.

To convince women to appear in the videos, Wolfe admitted that he told them the videos would never be posted online, never released in the United States, and that no one who knew the women would ever find out about it. their production.

Women targeted by Wolfe said in their civil claim that he promised them the videos would only be seen by private collectors in Australia and New Zealand.

Many of those duped into filming were struggling financially, offering between $3,000 and $5,000 as payment, as well as an “all-expenses” trip to San Diego. They were taken to motel rooms where the footage was shot.

The videos were then posted to the company’s own subscription-based website, while shorter versions were posted to some of the world’s largest porn sites, with the company earning more than $17 million in revenue, according to court documents.

ALSO READ  Uffindell and the Age of Boarding School Bullies

The videos have been viewed more than a billion times – a conservative figure that does not take into account illegal copies of the files.

According to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Wolfe admitted that he moved to the United States in 2011 to work for Pratt, the owner of the websites GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys.

The couple had been friends since childhood and grew up together in Christchurch.

“Wolfe filmed about a hundred videos, uploaded completed videos to the Internet, oversaw the company’s financial books, and ran several business entities used to promote the company,” the DOJ said in a statement.

The promises were made despite Wolfe knowing that Pratt also operated a separate site, pornwikileaks.com, which was set up to expose the “true identities” of women appearing in the sex videos.

“Even after Wolfe became aware of this, he and others continued to assure potential models that no one would ever find out about their video recording or their identities.”

ALSO READ  State of emergency declared for west coast as residents brace for more flooding

In 2019, the NZ Herald revealed that Wolfe and Pratt had been involved in the porn industry since they left high school in Christchurch and founded three porn sites in 2000.

Their business model had surrounded teenage amateurs who had never done porn before; young women who “looked like the girl next door”.

“This is the only time they do porn,” the website boasted.

Special Agent Stacey Moye, the agent in charge of the FBI’s San Diego office, said the crime had a devastating impact on the victims.

“Wolfe lied to and preyed on vulnerable young women, subjecting them to years of relentless harassment, fear and mental pain,” she said.

US Attorney Randy Grossman agreed.

“We will seek justice for victims of human trafficking in the hope that it will help them regain their lives and leave the pain of this experience in the past.”

Wolfe will be sentenced on October 10 in a San Diego court.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.