A Kiwi porn boss on the run from the FBI and accused of sex trafficking may be in New Zealand, according to reports.
Michael James Pratt, 36, and colleagues from his company GirlsDoPorn are charged with sex trafficking offences, following allegations they conned 22 women into filming pornographic videos.
A complaint laid by the women says they responded to ads for modelling jobs but were eventually told the job was really for adult films.
They were coerced into filming with claims they could stay anonymous and their films would only be distributed on DVD in foreign counties, according to the complaint.
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However the films were then broadcast on the hugely popular GirlsDoPorn website, generating millions in revenue, according to the US Justice Department.
The women launched a class action suit against the company in the San Diego Superior Court.
On Friday the US Department of Justice announced it was charging the company's owners and two employees with sex trafficking crimes.
Pratt faces one charge of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, and one charge of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, each of which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
GirlsDoPorn co-owner Matthew Wolfe was arrested on October 9 as were the two employees. Pratt is now considered a fugitive, the DoJ said.
TV station NBC San Diego had reported on October 8 that Pratt had returned to New Zealand before the start of his civil fraud trial in San Diego, according to testimony from Wolfe.
Wolfe was being questioned by the attorneys of the 22 young women, NBC said. He said Pratt had returned to New Zealand because of "health issues related to threats he had received" after stories about GirlsDoPorn were published, NBC reported.
Pratt went on holiday in South America before flying back to New Zealand from Tijuana, Wolfe said.
He testified that he spoke with Pratt as recently as October 1. The pair communicate via encrypted platform Signal, NBC reported.
The US Attorney's Office said it could not make any further comment.
A New Zealand Customs spokesman said for privacy reason Customs could not provide information on individual travellers, and asked the Herald to refer questions to the police or Interpol.
A police spokesperson said it was "not for NZ Police to comment on cases in another jurisdiction" and recommended the Herald contact the FBI's media team. Speaking on behalf of Interpol, police said they had nothing to add.
The Herald has been unable to reach the FBI.