Broward News

Colin and Andrea Chisholm, Who Collected Welfare While Living on Yacht, Busted in Port Everglades

Colin and Andrea Chisholm liked to tell people they were Scottish aristocrats. It wasn't hard to fake. They were living on a $1.2 million yacht in Palm Bay and training Cavalier King Charles Spaniels -- a breed popular in the U.K. One of their pups even got an award at the Westminster dog show.

Although they were certainly living like royalty, the Chisholms told public assistance workers a different story between 2004 and 2012. Had those same workers known that the couple had more than $2.5 million in their bank account, they certainly wouldn't have granted them more than $165,000 in welfare benefits.

See also: Colin and Andrea Chisholm, Palm Beach Couple Accused of Welfare Fraud, Are On the Run

The Chisholms moved to South Florida from Minnesota in 2004, the same year they started collecting benefits. They applied just before leaving and managed to collect welfare, food stamps, and health benefits there while living in a completely different state. Meanwhile, Colin Chisholm told investors he was the owner of TCN -- a Caribbean broadcasting network that was worth $97 million.

They've been on the lam since February 19, when they became wanted in Hennepin County, Minnesota. The search for the Chisholms started in Minnesota and was assisted by the FBI office in Miami, which then alerted Florida port officials to be on the lookout.

According to the Broward Sheriff's Office, they were apprehended in Freeport, Bahamas, with their young son on Monday and told their visas had expired. They were extradited to Florida and arrested that night around 11 while exiting the Bahamas Express -- a ferry that runs twice daily -- in Port Everglades. Their son and dog were picked up by a family member, according to a spokesman for the Hennepin County Attorney's Office, which has asked that the couple be extradited back to Minneapolis to stand trial on the charges. They are currently being held in Broward County without bond.

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.