5 of the Richest Criminals in History

| October 16, 2013

Although it’s never suggested, one of the best ways to get rich quickly is to become a criminal mastermind. Some of the richest people in history have been some of the most notorious criminals. If you’re willing to take the risk and a life in the slammer doesn’t faze you, creating your own criminal empire is the way to go. If, on the other hand, a single night in jail has you quaking in your boots, sit back and enjoy the escapades of others instead.

1.Pablo Escobar

Pablo Emilio Escobar Gaviria, painted portrait DDC_8207

When Senior Escobar passed away, he did so sitting atop an empire worth $30 billion. Escobar may be familiar to you: You’ve seen him portrayed in dozens of movies in the form of the South American drug lord. Escobar ran Colombia’s Medellin cocaine cartel with scary expertise, amassing a fortune that, in his prime, made him the 7th richest man in the world. Sure he was evil, but he also donated money and resources to the neighborhood that he grew up in. Maybe he didn’t deserve to be riddled with bullets after all?

2.Al Capone

Unless you have lived under a rock your whole life, you’ve heard of Al Capone. At the time of his death, Mr. Capone had a net worth of $100 million. Capone labeled himself a used furniture dealer, but the Chicago police would beg to differ. The infamous mobster put together a tremendous fortune by gambling, bootlegging and stealing. It is said that, at his peak, Capone was earning $100K each week through his empire of crime. Unfortunately, Capone decided not to pay his taxes and found himself in federal prison. What does the life of a mobster lead to? A fatal heart attack brought on by syphilis.

Al Capone Mugshot

3.Leona Helmsley

With a net worth of $2 billion, Ms. Helmsley may be the most notorious, and richest, female in American history. Do you aspire to a mad fortune of your own? If you’re a lady, find yourself a rich man and marry him; just don’t let a little thing like him being married already bother you. Helmsley met and married Harry Helmsley, the already married real estate mogul, and was named as President of the Helmsley Palace Hotel. Owning the least to the Empire State Building until she died in 2007, the lady Helmsley and her husband were both indicted for fraud and extortion in 1988.

4.Dennis Kozlowski

You would think a company that produces alarm systems would be able to keep its own house in order. Sadly for Tyco, manufacturers of the ADT Home Security System, the company was no match for Dennis Kozlowski. Embezzling is the way to go if you want to amass a small fortune; Kozlowski did it to the tune of $600 million. With a $19 million house, a separate apartment in New York, and even a private concert that took him straight to Margaritaville, Kozlowski had a great time while it lasted. He’ll be spending the next part of his life spending his fortune in the commissary.

5.Bernie Madoff

Madoff will undoubtedly find his place in the world of infamous criminals but, for now, he’s a mere baby on the list. Utilizing a very useful Ponzi scheme, Madoff was able to build a fortune of $820 million. Happily for his thousands of victims, Madoff was caught, arrested and tried. Found guilty, this schemer now finds himself hanging out in the prison yard, reporting that his life is now very strenuous. Aw!

Again, taking on a life of crime in order to pad your IRA is never advisable. That said, these men, and woman, did it and did it well. It’s only a shame that none are able to enjoy their millions.

Brett Harris is a private investigator and blogger. If you are interested in a career in the criminal justice field check out the Top 10 Best Online Criminal Justice Schools.


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