Matthew Isaac Wolfe, a pornography operator from New Zealand, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
Wolfe produced and uploaded adult videos for the U.S.-based platform, GirlsDoPorn. The company was launched in 2006 by Michael Pratt, and it has generated over $17 million.
Wolfe coerced young women into filming explicit videos by assuring them that they would not be uploaded online or shown in the United States. Instead, the women were told that the videos would be turned into DVDs and purchased by wealthy international buyers.
The company posted a modeling casting call on Craigslist to find women interested in participating. The applicants received phone calls from other women who claimed to have had a previous positive experience with the business. The female referrers and the cameraman guaranteed the models that the videos would not be uploaded online.
Wolfe convinced the women that it would be impossible for them to be recognized in the films, even though he knew that was not true. The operator filmed 100 videos and exclusively distributed them online. The films were never turned into DVDs.
The court reported, “Wolfe also admitted that he was aware that personal identifying information and social media accounts for some women were being posted on pornwikileaks.com, a site controlled by Pratt and dedicated to ‘exposing’ the true identities of individuals appearing in sex videos, causing the victims to be subjected to severe harassment.”
The videos received over a billion views. Some of the women in the films were identified and harassed.
The 22 victims were awarded $13 million in damages.
U.S. attorney Randy Grossman stated, “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 received a life sentence for his involvement in the fraud. Authorities are still looking for the founder, Michael Pratt. They are offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.