The FBI reached out to the public Wednesday for help in tracking down a fugitive wanted for his alleged involvement in a conspiracy to recruit young women and girls to engage in commercial sex acts by force, fraud and coercion.
The federal agency is offering a reward of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest of 38-year-old Michael James Pratt, co-owner and operator of a pornography production company and online websites named GirlsDoPorn and GirlsDoToys.
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
A federal arrest warrant was issued for Pratt in U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, in November 2019.
All of Pratt's alleged co-conspirators in the crimes have been arrested and either pleaded guilty or are awaiting trial. He is the lone outstanding suspect in the case.
"The defendant lied and tricked these women, made millions along the way and left his co-conspirators to face justice while he fled," San Diego-area FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner alleged. "Michael James Pratt is a danger to society regardless of where he is and is likely still victimizing people while on the run with his continued lies and false promises."
Pratt has ties to various countries and the financial means to "be anywhere around the world," as the websites he helped run generated combined profits of more than $17 million, according to an FBI statement.
The most recent development in the case came in June, when Ruben Andre Garcia, a porn actor and producer who recruited young women under false pretenses to appear in some of the videos, was sentenced to 20 years in custody in connection with his pleas to federal sex-trafficking and conspiracy charges.
“This defendant lured one victim after another with fake modeling ads, false promises and deceptive front companies, ultimately devolving to threats to coerce these women into making sex videos," Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said after the sentencing. "Even when victims told Garcia how the scheme had devastated their lives, he showed no regard for their well-being."
The 20-year sentence exceeds the 151-month term sought by prosecutors in their sentencing memorandum, as well as the seven-year term sought by Garcia's attorney. Co-defendants Valorie Moser, who worked for GirlsDoPorn as a bookkeeper, and Theodore Wilfred Gyi, a cameraman, have also pleaded guilty and await sentencing.
Anyone with information the fugitive's whereabouts is asked to contact federal authorities at 800-CALL-FBI or online.