Survivor Australia cast member and Survivor Philippines runner-up Michael Skupin was charged today with 12 felonies: six counts of possession of child pornography, one count of racketeering, and five counts of larceny by conversion. An investigation into a potential Ponzi scheme run by Skupin led to the discovery of child porn on his laptop.
A press release from the office of Michigan’s attorney general discusses the investigation, and also notes that “defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.” It says the attorney general “charged Michael Skupin, 54, of Oakland County, with six counts of possession of child sexually abusive materials five counts of larceny by conversion, and one count of Racketeering- Conducting a Criminal Enterprise for his role in allegedly running and promoting a Ponzi scheme.”
The alleged Ponzi scheme was called Pay it Forward, which Skupin defended when confronted by media two years ago. A now-deleted Facebook post said, “This is not a gimmick, a joke or an illegal pyramid scheme. YES it IS a pyramid, EVERYTHING is. YOUR JOB is a pyramid correct?”
People paid $10,000, and the AG’s office alleges that “money would then cycle through a chart in which participants were eventually paid out of other new investors’ money. The scheme was discovered when eventually there were no new investors signing and most people in the scheme lost all of their money.”
“Skupin’s laptop was searched in conjunction with the Ponzi scheme investigation. During the search, investigators discovered images of underage children in sexual situations. The images are alleged to belong to Skupin,” the attorney general’s office said.
Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette, said in the news release:
“Not only did this man rob people of their hard earned savings with his financial scams but he victimized innocent children every time he looked at a piece of child pornography. This man seems to have no concept or caring for right and wrong and will be prosecuted under the full extent of the law for these horrific crimes.”
If Skupin is released on $350,000 bond, he “must wear a GPS tether, cannot have any unsupervised visits with children or leave the state.”