Former 'Survivor' contestant Michael Skupin pleads guilty in Ponzi scheme


DETROIT – Former "Survivor" contestant and Michigan native Michael Skupin pleaded guilty Monday to one count of larceny by conversion and agreed to pay $30,000 in restitution to his victims. 

Skupin was also found guilty of four counts of possession of child sexually abusive materials Friday.

"I am pleased to see this case come to a close," said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. "Today's plea will bring closure and more importantly restitution to the victims of Mr. Skupin's financial crimes."

 Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 27.

Case background from attorney general's office

An investigation into Skupin began after victims from his alleged Ponzi scheme contacted a local news reporter. It is alleged that Michael Skupin recruited investors and friends to take part in his “gifting scheme” called Pay It Forward. Victims allegedly made $10,000 cash investments in the scheme. Their 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 up 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.

Skupin on 'Survivor'

Skupin was a contestant on season two of "Survivor" in 2000. The season took place in the Australian outback. He is remembered for an animal cruelty scandal in which he hunted down a wild pig and he was the first contestant to be medically evacuated after he passed out and fell into a fire.

He appeared on the show again in 2012.

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