Couple on the run for over $160,000 in welfare fraud

posted at 2:01 pm on March 31, 2014 by Dustin Siggins

For seven years, a wealthy couple pulled in $167,000 in state assistance benefits, including food stamps and welfare. While they stopped doing so in 2012, their illegal activities finally came to the attention of authorities, who are hunting them down:

A Minnesota couple who allegedly claim to be Scottish aristocrats are on the run, accused of claiming public assistance benefits while living on their $1.2 million yacht and driving a $30,000 Lexus.

Andrea Chisholm, 54, and Colin Chisholm III, 62, allegedly collected more than $167,000 in welfare, food stamps and medical assistance across two states over a period of around seven years, according to a complaint filed with a Minnesota State court.

For the past month, Hennepin County Sheriff’s department has been searching for the couple who are still at large, according to a statement issued by the Hennepin County Attorney, Mike Freeman.

“Mr. … sorry. Lord and Lady Chisholm the third, are fraudsters of the first degree,” Freeman said. “These folks ripped off the system.”

Their plan was pretty brazen, though one has to wonder how they got away with it until 2012:

The Chisholms began claiming public assistance in Minnesota in 2005 after telling authorities they were living with Andrea’s mother in Minneapolis. Just weeks after the pair applied for assistance, they also bought an 83-foot yacht for $1.2 million in Florida, which they lived on for 28 months, according to the complaint. They were also claiming benefits in Florida at the same time as they were collecting money in Minnesota, the complaint said.

The couple also allegedly failed to report the nearly $3 million they had deposited in various bank accounts “to support their lavish lifestyle,” and concealed that they had lived in luxury lakeside homes in Deepahaven since 2008 when they moved back to Minnesota, the complaint said.

During this time, the pair continued to receive welfare benefits and medical assistance from the state, including the prenatal care Andrea Chisholm received while pregnant in 2006 and 2007, the complaint said.

The Chisholms are getting enormous media attention, as they should. Hopefully, they are arrested and charged to the full extent of the law, and their experience brings about the right policy changes to state and federal anti-poverty programs.

Politicians and bureaucrats don’t like to talk about it in any substantive fashion, but fraud and other inefficiencies are enormous, and the Chisholms aren’t even the biggest culprits. The federal government alone sees hundreds of billions of dollars lost each year to fraud, though nobody knows exactly how much or how it’s done. And while conservatives rightly express concerns about the financial stability of anti-poverty programs like Medicaid, food stamps, Social Security, and Medicare, improperly and inefficiently spent federal dollars cost taxpayers enough to balance the budget and then some for years to come.

In a government as large and complicated as ours, tracking all the dollars is nearly impossible. Medicare and Medicaid alone have been estimated at $100 billion in lost funds due to fraud — about one-seventh of the combined expenditures of the programs — and the Pentagon may see a similar amount of its budget lost to fraud on an annual basis, though its budget is such a convoluted mess it’s impossible to know the extent of the fraud.

In Fiscal Year 2013, the federal government spent more than $3.9 trillion, though after federal park fees, postal office fees, and the like the “net cost” of federal spending was $3.7 trillion. And while the Obama administration claims credit for dropping the rate of improper payments from 5.4 % in 2009 to 3.5% in 2013, last year’s total of $139 billion was $31 billion more lost to improper payments than was seen in 2012. (And this does not include the entire federal government, since the Department of Defense is not the only agency lacking internal controls and accountability.)

Duplication — at least $200 billion annually, according to Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) — and other inefficiencies complete the ensemble of awfulness that makes up the federal budget. While the total number of dollars lost is unknown, it’s pretty clear that at least 20% of the federal government’s outgoing dollars are not used in the way Congress intended.

And none of that includes intentional corruption, such as corporate welfare, or the existence of programs that shouldn’t, such as federal food stamps.

Of course, rather than work to spend taxpayer dollars more effectively — or spend fewer of them in fewer programs, and thus prevent the opportunity to lose so much money — most politicians brag about relatively miniscule amounts recovered, or ignore the problem outright until people like the Chisholms come to light. Which brings us back to the couple on the run, and how they got away with their fraud for so long.

Dustin Siggins is the Washington, D.C. Correspondent for Lifesitenews.com and formerly the primary blogger with Tea Party Patriots. He is a co-author of the forthcoming book, Bankrupt Legacy: The Future of the Debt-Paying Generation. His work has been published by numerous online and print publications, including USA Today, Roll Call, Hot Air, Huffington Post, Mediaite, and First Things.


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Tip of the Iceberg.

portlandon on March 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Their plan was pretty brazen, though one has to wonder how they got away with it until 2012:

Surprised that someone got away with ripping the gov. off, Surprised?

jmtham156 on March 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

“Mr. … sorry. Lord and Lady Chisholm Obama the third, are fraudsters of the first degree,” Freeman said. “These folks ripped off the system.”

Sorry, but that sentence was begging to be fixed.

antipc on March 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

There’s no incentive for government to be efficient or to weed out fraud — just borrow and spend more next year.

rbj on March 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

A Minnesota couple who allegedly claim to be Scottish aristocrats are on the run, accused of claiming public assistance benefits while living on their $1.2 million yacht and driving a $30,000 Lexus.

Is Ed really on vacation?

Flange on March 31, 2014 at 2:07 PM

So you can make $24,000/year by doing nothing except applying for various benefits? Working is for SUCKAS!

ramesees on March 31, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Couple on the run for over $160,000 in welfare fraud

…have they looked…in Washington DC?
…1st place to look…is in the backyard!

KOOLAID2 on March 31, 2014 at 2:17 PM

So you can make $24,000/year by doing nothing except applying for various benefits? Working is for SUCKAS!

ramesees on March 31, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Well, that is $24,000/year using two claims, so it’s more likely $12,000/year.

HiJack on March 31, 2014 at 2:26 PM

There’s that word again…… Minnesota.

It would explain Bishop’s absence of late. ;0

Seriously, while prosecution would be a bonus, I’m more interested in commonsense regulatory changes that tightens up on fraudsters of all scales. I applauded Louisiana for going hard on those looters who attempted to steal during a period when the EBT system wasn’t working. I want to see the same when you see videos of some surfer dude living off of lobster he bought with food stamps or individuals with multiple Obamaphones.

Happy Nomad on March 31, 2014 at 2:28 PM

Just weeks after the pair applied for assistance, they also bought an 83-foot yacht for $1.2 million in Florida, which they lived on for 28 months, according to the complaint.

See they were needy! Their yacht is only 83-feet long! By Florida standards, that’s a single-wide.

Happy Nomad on March 31, 2014 at 2:31 PM

>Is it possible that they didn’t do anything illegal? Do public assistance forms ask if you have valuable assets? It’s certainly possible that they didn’t have much, if any, income.

Depending on the state, yes.

Here in CA it’s very detailed although not verified that I can tell.

SpudmanWP on March 31, 2014 at 2:40 PM

Comparatively speaking, is their fraud any worse than the fed reserve fraud? Certainly not in volume, and likely not in chicanery.

Once the dollar was de-linked from gold, the legal arguments against counterfeiting vanished. Counterfeiting is indistinguishable from fed money printing, except that the Congress allows one and proscribes the other. Purely arbitrary.

Likewise welfare fraud. It really can’t be fraud since the government that is providing the money does not have to obtain it via taxes.

platypus on March 31, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Honestly, I’m a little surprised the government is going after them at all. After all, Charlie Rangel had over $125,000 in back taxes, and look at him.

If they were illegal aliens, they’d be getting off free and clear.

Pope Linus on March 31, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Nation of Idiots

Plus, this

Schadenfreude on March 31, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Here’s a solution:

Stop giving money to people. It’s not a proper Constitutional government function.

I know, I’m a dreamer.

Lance Corvette on March 31, 2014 at 3:36 PM

I wish I knew how to work the system.

crankyoldlady on March 31, 2014 at 3:36 PM

if your income is low, can’t you get benefits, no matter how much you have?

tlynch001 on March 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM

They were also claiming benefits in Florida at the same time as they were collecting money in Minnesota, the complaint said.

Do we not have a system in place to prevent this? Sort of like NPDB for healthcare?

lineholder on March 31, 2014 at 3:59 PM

if your income is low, can’t you get benefits, no matter how much you have?

tlynch001 on March 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Legally, no. There are asset limits in place that were designed to prevent people from abusing the system.

Double-edged sword, that one is…because those same asset limitations keep honest people trapped in the system. The asset limit isn’t high enough for them to make the jump to independence.

lineholder on March 31, 2014 at 4:01 PM

Here’s a solution:

Stop giving money to people. It’s not a proper Constitutional government function.

I know, I’m a dreamer.

Lance Corvette on March 31, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Not only are you a dreamer, but you’re also a racist. /

HiJack on March 31, 2014 at 4:07 PM

There’s no incentive for government to be efficient or to weed out fraud — just borrow and spend more next year.

rbj on March 31, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Oligarchy

workingclass artist on March 31, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Did they a ‘bama phone, too? Now, THAT’S illegal!

vnvet on March 31, 2014 at 4:25 PM

And if those evil Republicans didn’t cut benefits, they could have gotten away with more!

/

Mark Boabaca on March 31, 2014 at 4:25 PM

if your income is low, can’t you get benefits, no matter how much you have?

tlynch001 on March 31, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Legally, no. There are asset limits in place that were designed to prevent people from abusing the system.

Double-edged sword, that one is…because those same asset limitations keep honest people trapped in the system. The asset limit isn’t high enough for them to make the jump to independence.

lineholder on March 31, 2014 at 4:01 PM

I think perhaps they relied on the states’ lack of cross-checking lists of those being paid benefits with other states. It’s the same kind of problem that allows New Yorkers to get away with voting in Florida as well.

slickwillie2001 on March 31, 2014 at 4:43 PM

So you felt the need to throw something about “corporate welfare” into a story about individual entitlement fraud???

Anytime I see that term I have to read because I think the overall premise is BS for the vast majority of businesses. So I see buried on page 3 of your Forbes article (that you quote via link to an author that is quoting somebody else that is most likely quoting somebody else that is most likely quoting somebody else):

Federal benefits for a favored few businesses

The term “corporate welfare” is the same as saying all white folk south of the Mason Dixon line own rope and have a favorite tree. tsk tsk tsk…

teejk on March 31, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Since they were receiving public assistance, they would have been given a Motor Voter card.
Did they register as Democrats, or Republicans – or would that be too difficult for the Strib to uncover?

Another Drew on March 31, 2014 at 6:33 PM

Since they were receiving public assistance, they would have been given a Motor Voter card.
Did they register as Democrats, or Republicans – or would that be too difficult for the Strib to uncover?

Another Drew on March 31, 2014 at 6:33 PM

I’m sure they are Democratics and would be registered as Democratics, and if the Strib found that out they would bury that fact.

slickwillie2001 on March 31, 2014 at 6:40 PM

So they stole stolen money.

iwasbornwithit on March 31, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Small time tax thieves on the run from big time tax thieves.

iwasbornwithit on March 31, 2014 at 7:37 PM

If we had awards for people that turned in welfare crooks and SNAP thieves, exactly as we do via the IRS for people who evade taxes, more of these crooks would get caught.

slickwillie2001 on March 31, 2014 at 8:03 PM

slickwillie2001 on March 31, 2014 at 8:03 PM

The day that happens I suggest you don’t leave your house without a hard-hat…flying pigs falling from the sky will leave a mark. SNAP will soon replace the dollar as our primary currency. Did you see the story a few weeks ago about being able to buy lingerie in LA with your SNAP money? A few months ago there was a big fight over moving the SNAP program from the USDA budget to HHS where it belongs (even though 80% of the farm bill is SNAP). I can only guess that American farmers are producing lingerie in their spare time.

teejk on March 31, 2014 at 8:19 PM