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Colin Chisholm indicted for fraudulent scheme to steal more than $2 million from investors in television network startup

12/18/2015 3:14:04 PM

SAINT PAUL – Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman announced the federal indictment of Colin Alexander Chisholm, age 64, of Minneapolis, for stealing more than $2 million from investors by lying to them about an investment in a purported television network startup. Chisholm was indicted on seven counts of wire fraud and six counts of mail fraud.

“As the indictment alleges, Colin Chisholm told one lie after another to steal from investors who thought they were financing a promising new business enterprise,” said Rothman. “In reality, Chisholm was using their money for his own personal enrichment and luxurious lifestyle. This case shows the Commerce Fraud Bureau’s continuing partnership with federal authorities to bring white-collar criminals to justice.”

“This case is yet another example of successful cooperation between federal and local law enforcement and prosecutors,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “I am especially grateful to my colleagues and friends in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office who referred this case for federal prosecution.”

Craig I. Goldberg, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division, which also covers the Twin Cities, said, “When the U.S. mail is alleged to have been used for the purposes of committing fraud, it’s the job of the Postal Inspection Service to aggressively investigate and ensure America’s continued confidence in the integrity of its postal system.”

“According to the indictment, Mr. Chisholm claimed to have devised a creative and exciting investment opportunity,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lola Velazquez-Aguilu, who is prosecuting the case. “However, it was built on a series of lies. Instead of providing a real possibility for a return on their investment, this defendant is charged with victimizing those who entrusted their money to him. Thanks to the hard work of investigators from the Minnesota Department of Commerce and United States Postal Inspection Service, this defendant will now have to answer for his alleged crimes.”

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, since 2004, Chisholm used The Caribbean Television Network, Inc., (TCN) an entity he formed purportedly to broadcast satellite television throughout the Caribbean, to solicit funds from investors. As part of the solicitation, Chisholm told potential investors that TCN would serve as a network for a group of cable television channels, thereby allowing advertisers to obtain advertising time on multiple channels via a single network advertising buy. Throughout the scheme, Chisholm told investors that TCN was on the verge of securing between $20 million and $100 million in funding to begin broadcasting, and that their investment would be used as interim financing for TCN. 

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, as part of his scheme to obtain money from potential investors, Chisholm lied to them about the progress and viability of the main funding sources for TCN. Chisholm lied to some investors by telling them that they were buying shares of TCN stock owned by Chisholm’s alleged family trust – the Comar Trust and told some investors that their investments were guaranteed by the Comar Trust. In fact, the Comar Trust did not have funds to guarantee the investments. 

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Chisholm also lied to investors about his personal background. He told some investors that he was the grandson of Hugh J. Chisholm, Jr., and the son of William Chisholm, of the Oxford Paper Company. In falsely claiming this family lineage, Chisholm gave the false impression that he came from considerable family wealth. Chisholm also claimed to be a Scottish Chieftain of the Clam Chisholm and claimed to have close personal ties to members of the Bush family, specifically to Prescott S. Bush, Hr., the deceased brother of former President George H.W. Bush. Chisholm further claimed to provide scholarships to Bowdoin College, where Hugh J. Chisholm, Jr., received an honorary degree.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Chisholm also lied about his professional background, most notably making the claim to potential investors that he had worked as Vice President for Turner Program Services, to have a relationship with Ted Turner, and to have participated in the development and launch of CNN and CNN Headline News, including writing the business plan for CNN.

According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Chisholm also failed to disclose his own misuse of investor funds, including funds he used to satisfy a $255,500.50 settlement with Verizon and for personal expenses, such as the purchase of a yacht, personal fitness and wellness expenses, and rent for his home on Lake Minnetonka. 

Chisholm is charged with causing the loss of more than $2 million to individual investors.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce Fraud Bureau and the United States Postal Inspection Service. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office also provided substantial assistance in this case.

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