The 25 Richest Criminals of All Time

They say crime doesn't pay. But for these wealthy criminals, it made millions.
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.