‘Survivor’ Contestant Michael Skupin Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

One of the most recognizable names in Survivor is facing some serious jail time.

Michael Skupin has been charged with six counts of possession of child sexually abusive materials, five counts of larceny by conversion, and one count of racketeering. This is all in relation to his alleged role in running a Ponzi scheme. The 54-year-old Skupin was arraigned on Friday, and he’s currently being held at the Oakland County Jail in Pontiac, MI, on $350,000 bond.

“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,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in a news release. “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.”

The Attorney General’s office went into detail about the Ponzi scheme Skupin is charged with operating. Apparently, Skupin convinced investors to participate in a “gifting scheme” called Pay It Forward. Victims made $10,000 cash investments, and they would then cycle through the system until they made a profit using money from new investors into the scheme. The problem, of course, was that no new investors were buying into the mess, meaning these people were essentially getting all their money taken by Skupin and his associates. A victim reported Skupin’s scheme to a local news reporter, and the resulting investigation turned up images of underage children in compromising situations on Skupin’s laptop. The rest is history.

'Survivor' Contestant Michael Skupin Arrested on Child Pornography Charges

Credit: CBS

Skupin is a well-known name to the Survivor community. He was infamously evacuated from Survivor: The Australian Outback after falling into a campfire. It remained one of the most iconic moments in the history of the series, so much so that Skupin was eventually brought back for a second season twelve years later. In Survivor: Philippines, he made it all the way to the end, finishing as runner-up to eventual winner Denise Stapley. He was seen as a contestant who could have theoretically been brought back for a third season, considering what a colorful, hard-playing personality he was in the Philippines. But I don’t see how they bring him back again after this, whether he’s convicted or not. Even if the child pornography isn’t his, he’s still on the hook for scheming people out of thousands. Then again, season one winner Richard Hatch has been to jail, and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they found a way to bring him back at some point. Either way, this is a real disappointment. Skupin seemed like a good man, but this is something else entirely. Whatever happens, I hope he faces justice.

For more on Survivor, find out where the show is headed for seasons 33 and 34.

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