The 25 Richest Criminals of All Time

the 25 richest criminals of all  time
The 25 Richest Criminals of All Time Getty Images

Movies like The Godfather, Goodfellas and Ocean's 8 glamorize the criminal life. But in reality being a lawbreaker isn't the wisest career choice. Some of the wealthiest criminals in history met unfortunate ends–winding up on the run, in prison or in the morgue.

Still, a bleak fate didn't didn't deter the super-wealthy criminals on our list, no matter what their crimes–embezzlement, drug-running, Ponzi schemes, prostitution or even murder. The allure of financial gain proved too hard too hard to ignore.

Many of the criminals in our slideshow made their bank trafficking drugs, including Puerto Rican cocaine lord José Figueroa Agosto, Medellín Cartel head Carlos Lehder and the infamous Pablo Escobar. They oversaw massive empires that made them rich and allowed them to indulge their every whim. At one point, it's rumored that Escobar offered to pay off Colombia's $10 billion national debt to avoid extradition to the United States. (The government refused his offer. )

Others, like mobsters Al Capone, Anthony Salerno and Semion Mogilevich, focused their illicit activities on gambling and extortion.

And some were strictly white collar: Kenneth Lay, Bernard Madoff and Allen Stafford all committed fraud on a massive scale, through embezzlement, pyramid schemes and defrauding stockholders.

Of course the net worth of a criminal is highly subjective, since lawbreakers aren't known for being scrupulous bookkeepers: It's estimated that Griselda Blanco, the Colombian "Godmother of Cocaine," was worth $2 billion at her peak. But she went to great lengths to hide her profits before being gunned down outside a Medellin butcher shop in 2012.

Our ranking are based on previously reported information about the net worth of these ne'er-do-wells' at the height of their criminal enterprises. As a result there were many ties.

So let us make you an offer you can't refuse: Click through to see the wealthiest criminals in modern history.

1 Frank Lucas -  Luigi Novi
18. Frank Lucas: $52 millionLuigi Novi
2 American Gangster - Universal Pictures
Crime: Drug trafficking.Considered one of the largest distributors of heroin from the late 1960s to the 1980s, Lucas boasted of smuggling the drug in the coffins of slain soldiers returning from Vietnam. He was arrested in 1976 and convicted on a number of charges related to his massive heroin-distribution ring, but received a reduced sentence after becoming an informant for the federal government.Denzel Washington played Lucas in the 2007 film American Gangster.Universal Pictures
3 Kenneth Lay
17. Kenneth Lay: $90 millionGetty Images
4 Kenneth Lay
Crime: Fraud. Lay, founder and CEO of Enron, was accused of misleading stockholders and embezzling millions, which led to the corporation filing the largest bankruptcy claim in U.S. history in 2001. He was found guilty of securities fraud in 2006 but died of a heart attack three months before his sentencing. Getty Images
5 Al Capone
16. Al Capone: $100 million (tie)Getty Images
6 Al Capone
Crime: Officially tax evasion, but also racketeering, extortion and bootlegging. In the 1920s and 1930s, Capone was one of the biggest mob bosses in America, and was accused of orchestrating the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, where seven rival gang members were in broad daylight. The murders were an attempt to threaten the rival Irish North Siders gang for control over organized crime in Chicago during Prohibition. In the years that followed he made his millions through bootlegging and racketeering, but was ultimately sent to prison for tax evasion. Getty Images
7 José Figueroa Agosto - US Dept of Justice
16. José Figueroa Agosto: $100 million (tie)U.S. Department of Justice