MIAMI (CBSMiami) — The search is on for a South Florida couple who authorities said were living a lavish lifestyle while collecting food stamps.
Prosecutors are describing Colin Chisholm,III and his wife Andrea as, “rich folks ripping off the system.”
Authorities said the couple got $167,000 in welfare from the state of Minnesota while living in Palm Beach on a $1.2 million yacht.
“I’ve never ridden in a yacht that nice. I bet most of us haven’t, but they were living on it while they were collecting public assistance,” said Mike Freeman of the Hennepin County Attorney.
The Chisholms are charged with wrongfully obtaining public assistance. Prosecutors said over the years they fraudulently collected medical assistance, welfare payments and food stamps.
They also allegedly lied about where they were living, who they were living with and their source of income.
The couple, who reportedly insisted on being called lord and lady, is also accused of failing to report $3 million deposited in their bank accounts.
Andrea ran a high end kennel and entered dogs in fancy dog show. She is accused of using $60,000 of public assistance money for massages at a spa.
The couples alleged scam ran from January 2005 to March 2012. At times they were allegedly collecting welfare benefits in both Florida and Minnesota, at the same time.
It’s something former neighbors back in Minnesota found shocking.
“It astonishes me. I had no idea that this could ever really happen,” said former neighbor Callie King.
If they’re convicted, the Chisholms could face up to 20 years in prison.
They first have to get caught. Authorities said they have reason to believe the couple fled the U.S. and may be hiding out some place where it’s warm and keeping a low profile.