Criminal Justice

Missing couple is accused of collecting welfare while living large; $60K allegedly went for massages

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A missing couple has been charged in Minnesota with collecting welfare benefits even as they purchased a yacht and lived in a $1.6 million home.

Andrea and Colin Chisholm are accused of collecting $167,000 in medical and food-stamp benefits from Minnesota, using about $60,000 of the money to pay for massages at a wellness center and spa, the Sun Sentinel and the Minneapolis Star Tribune report. The couple had about $3 million in various bank accounts, according to Hennepin County prosecutors.

Minnesota officials believe the Chisholms have left the country for “someplace warm,” the Sun Sentinel says. They allegedly negotiated the purchase of a $1.2 million yacht in Florida as they were beginning to apply for benefits in 2004. The yacht was seized by the Coast Guard after the couple missed monthly payments, the Sun Sentinel says.

In 2008, the couple moved into a luxury, $1.6 million house on Lake Minnetonka with Andrea Chisholm’s elderly grandmother, prosecutors say. Andrea Chisholm obtained power of attorney for the grandmother, and authorities allege the couple funneled money through her bank account.

Colin Chisholm held himself out as a broadcasting executive and a Scottish aristocrat, seeking money from investors for a satellite TV company, the stories say. Andrea Chisholm owned a company that bred pedigree dogs, including a Westminster dog show award winner.

Colin Chisholm’s ex-wife, Virginia Mance Chisholm of North Carolina, helped prosecutors build the case, according to the Sun Sentinel. “He could sell ice cream to a snowman,” she told the newspaper.

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