Some of us often wonder about the other side of the law. Crime and profit often go hand in hand at history’s chagrin. One question obviously rises to the forefront of the common man’s curiosity — Who are the richest criminals the world has ever known?
From a broad daylight bank robbery, a series of smuggling expeditions, or a decades-long game of gangsters and prohibition; these richest criminals have made a fortune most of us could only dream of attaining.
Table of Contents
- The Top 25 Richest Criminals in History
- 25. Frank Abagnale (Jr.) – $10 Million
- 24. John Gotti (Jr.) – $30 Million
- 23. Rayful Edmond III – $50 Million
- 22. Frank Lucas – $52 Million
- 21. Al Capone – $100 Million
- 20. José Figueroa Agosto – $100 Million
- 19. George Jung – $100 Million
- 18 Meyer Lansky – $300 Million
- 17. Kenneth Lay – $400 Million
- 16. Griselda Blanco – $500 Million
- 15. Dennis Kozlowski – $600 Million
- 14. Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno – $1 Billion
- 13. El Chapo Guzman – $2 Billion
- 12. Allen Stanford – $2.2 Billion
- 11. Carlos Lehder – $2.7 Billion
- 10. Rodriguez Orejuela Brothers – $3 Billion
- 9. Leona Helmsley – $4 Billion
- 8. Susumu Ishii -$4 Billion
- 7. Elizabeth Holmes -$4.5 Billion
- 6. Khun Sa – $5 Billion
- 5. Viktor Bout – $6 Billion
- 4. Dawood Ibrahim – $6.7 Billion
- 3. Semion Mogelivich – $10 Billion
- 2. Amado Carrillo Fuentes – $25 Billion
- 1. Pablo Escobar – $30 Billion
- Top 25 Richest Criminals in the World (Rankings)
- Final Words
The Top 25 Richest Criminals in History
This said list has been compiled from a variety of sources, but the fortunes attributed to each criminal below is a rough estimation of their ill-gotten wealth. Take the numbers with a grain of salt.
This list of various richest criminals throughout history will articulate the greatest of the worst among us:
25. Frank Abagnale (Jr.) – $10 Million
Frank Abagnale Jr. was one of the most successful check-forgers and imposters in recent American history. This notorious figure accomplished most of his crimes of fraud in a six-year period – From the young ages of fifteen to twenty-one in the early seventies.
His abilities of deception allowed him to impersonate doctors, lawyers (including passing the BAR), pilots, and more despite his young age. An incredible talent, he only served four years in prison despite stealing what would amount to roughly 2.5 million USD.
After his period of crime, the fraud artist turned his life around and became a security consultant to various banks and the FBI agency. Today he is worth roughly $10 million USD.
24. John Gotti (Jr.) – $30 Million
Gotti was an American mafioso and racketeer in the 1990s closely tied to the Gambino regime of New York; more specifically, one of the bosses in the well-known family. Fortunately for Gotti, all criminal investigations into his accumulated fortunes all ended in a mistrial after a mistrial. The last of which, was in 2009.
His effectiveness at avoiding a prosecution has earned him the nickname “Teflon Jr.”, a direct reference to his father John Gotti (Sr.). The federal government announced in January of 2010 that they will no longer seek to prosecute the mafioso for his previous racketeering charges.
As of today the wealth that this infamous figure has garnered is estimated to be in the park of $30 million USD.
23. Rayful Edmond III – $50 Million
Rayful was known for his drug trafficking campaign that took place in Washington D.C. in the ’80s. This kingpin’s empire caused crime in the area to skyrocket to never before seen levels in America’s center.
The primary form of narcotic he would bring forward was cocaine – This trafficking bringing in around $2 million in garnered gains each week. He was sentenced to life without parole, but for good behavior, the sentence is now reduced to forty years.
The amount this kingpin of D.C. managed to accumulate was roughly $52 million before his capture.
22. Frank Lucas – $52 Million
Frank Lucas was a drug kingpin that operated during the 1960s and 1970s that was notable for opposing the Italian mafia. Formerly a denizen of North Carolina, the gangster moved into the New York scene to battle with notable figures over the trade of heroin using his own family as the backbone of his operation. The kingpin, during his heyday, had stated that he had managed to sell roughly a million USD worth of heroin each day.
He claims to have once been worth roughly $52 million USD, alongside a notable amount of heroin as liquid assets.
21. Al Capone – $100 Million
Also known as ‘Scarface’, this figure’s notoriety has raised him into American mythology as the stereotype of a gangster. He is likely the most prolific mafioso of all time. Al Capone was able to garner his impressive empire of the prohibition that turned alcohol into liquid gold in the early 19th century.
In the Chicago area, he controlled the flow of alcohol, prostitutes, and gambling with the usage of his family. It is estimated he managed to procure around $100 million USD every year; a portion of which was used to bribe every level of his local government into compliance.
It is estimated that his wealth was roughly $100 million.
20. José Figueroa Agosto – $100 Million
A notorious drug trafficker that operated primarily in the Dominican Republic. He was known for supposedly smuggling roughly three tons of cocaine into his nation in the 2000s.
When the federal agencies neared his capture, he underwent extensive facial reconstruction to avoid recognition. Regardless, in 2010 authorities managed to identify and apprehend him. As part of a plea agreement with US authorities, he was offered a plea deal to serve a sentence of thirty years.
The assumed wealth of his finances was around $100 million USD.
19. George Jung – $100 Million
Jung was a trafficker from Boston that took part in the cocaine trade to the US during the 1970s. It is stated that Jung was responsible for a majority of the cocaine entering the US during this period, but was arrested in 1987 on the relevant charges.
Unfortunately, he fled with his family before the trial. He was found in Kansas in 1994 with nearly 2,000 pounds of cocaine ready for distribution. He spent twenty years of a sixty-year sentence and was released in 2014.
George Jung was worth an estimated $100 million USD.
18 Meyer Lansky – $300 Million
Lansky was an immigrant from Poland that spent his time amongst gangsters like Lucky Luciano and Bugsy Siegel. His primary vices were gambling, of the legal and otherwise variety that led him into an amount of money, most would envy.
His crimes revolved around the roll of a dice; some operations in Cuba, some in Florida, but most notably in the fledgling Las Vegas founded by Bugsy. When indicted for tax evasion he fled to Israel.
Eventually, his conscience caught him, and in 1974 Lansky returned to face charges, but was acquitted. The estimated amount of money that Lansky accumulated was in the realm of $300 million.
17. Kenneth Lay – $400 Million
Lay was the CEO of the company “Enron” in the early portion of the 2000’s era. The company once well-known as a major corporation, enough so that the CEO was associated with George W. Bush, went bankrupt from a variety of mismanagement reasons. His crime was mainly white-collar, mostly fraud. During Lay’s sentencing, he died from natural causes attributed to age.
His worth during said period was roughly $400 million, though today, that number is closer to $760 million.
16. Griselda Blanco – $500 Million
Blanco was known as the “Cocaine Queen of Miami” in her era amongst the masses of illegitimacy she accompanied. She operated in association with one of the Colombian cartels as a ruthless drug lord that kept her keep through the usage of intimidation and violence.
Her monthly earnings were estimated at $80 million, though this is still hearsay. After her capture in the late ’80s, she spent a decade behind bars in federal prison on drug charges, afterward, she disappeared into the depths of Colombia and kept from public sight.
It is estimated that Blanco at one point, held $500 million USD in reserve, alongside whatever liquid funds her distribution was worth.
15. Dennis Kozlowski – $600 Million
Kozolowski once worked for Tyco International as their CEO but was caught in 2005 for stealing over millions from the company over a number of years to fuel an increasingly costly lifestyle. Supposedly, in his New York apartment, they found shower curtains worth $6,000. Much of the stolen funding likely disappeared into these overly extravagant ventures.
The estimated amount of embezzled money was roughly $600 million USD.
14. Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno – $1 Billion
Fat Tony was an Italian American mafia boss that racketeered drugs in the East Harlem area during the ’80s. Supposedly, he was more successful because his fellow mobsters left the area due to increased immigration. Fortune Magazine’s top gangster, frontman for the Genovese family, and influential to envy. The law caught him in 1986 and charged him for racketeering. He was sentenced to 70 years of a hard time.
It is estimated that the amount he managed to racket was $1 billion, or more.
13. El Chapo Guzman – $2 Billion
Guzman is one of the most powerful Mexican Cartel Leaders of the modern era, as stated by Forbes. In 2003, he was considered the world’s top drug trafficker and managed to export an immeasurable amount of narcotics into the US.
He was arrested in 1993 but escaped in 2001. He remained a fugitive until 2015, where he escaped once more through a jail cell tunnel. 2016 was his last escape and he is now serving a life sentence for crimes his Sinaloa Cartel committed.
Guzman managed to accumulate roughly $2 billion in assets during his extensive history of crime.
12. Allen Stanford – $2.2 Billion
Allen Stanford was an American financier that lived among the wealthiest socialists; even receiving a knighthood from Antigua and Barbuda (The Caribbeans). He was sentenced in 2012 for fraud, security laws, other charges related to $7 billion in certificates of deposits; the only charge going unconvicted being wire fraud.
The number of offenses he committed resulted in a life sentence or 110 years served. Stanford attempted to appeal his lengthy conviction in 2014; however, the appeals court rejected the appeal the very next year.
Stanford’s wealth in 2008 was stated to be around $2.2 billion in net worth.
11. Carlos Lehder – $2.7 Billion
This kingpin’s empire began from a prison meeting with notorious drug trafficker George Jung. Lehder is one of the founding fathers of the Medellin cartel of Colombia which distributed cocaine into the United States for decades.
He at one point was so staggeringly rich he offered to pay off his nation’s debt from an island (which he owned) in the Bahamas. His crimes earned him a life sentence in the US which was commuted for testifying against a Panamanian President. He was released in 2020.
His wealth was noted to be roughly $2.7 billion during his height of power in Columbia.
10. Rodriguez Orejuela Brothers – $3 Billion
This pair operated together in an empire known as the “Cali Cartel”. Their primary format of wealth accumulation was in drug racketeering operations that combated various other groups with likewise mentalities in the ongoing smuggling that wars at the borders of the US.
Their primary rival was the Medellin Cartel. They took plea sentences of 30 years in 2006 to grant immunity to 29 members of their family.
The estimated amount this founding pair accumulated is $3 billion.
9. Leona Helmsley – $4 Billion
Leona Helmsley was known as one of the most notorious tax-evasion artists of the highest class. This so-called “queen of mean” was charged in 1992 for the attributed crime and spent a little over a year behind bars. It was stated that when she died in 2007, she left a substantial $12 million to her dog.
The estimated amount she had earned was 4 billion over her lifetime.
8. Susumu Ishii -$4 Billion
A Yakuza mob boss in the 1980’s that was responsible for turning the infamous Japanese gangsters away from their notorious history of violence, toward legitimate businesses.
This man invested his fortunes in projects worldwide to garner an impressive fortune from less than legal venture-origin. To the people beneath him, he was the “man with the golden touch”, a King Midas of the modern era.
He managed to collect roughly $4 billion USD.
7. Elizabeth Holmes -$4.5 Billion
Named by Forbes to be one of the world’s most disappointing leaders, her now-defunct company claimed to have made bold claims of improved blood testing abilities.
She misled investors and the US government with a device that “could test with a fingerprick”. Journalist companies investigated her claims in 2015, which proved most claims she stated to be false. She was forced to return 18.9 million shares to her company and pay a $500,000 fine for false claims.
Her estimated worth was $4.5 billion but is now at zero.
6. Khun Sa – $5 Billion
Khun Sa, or Zhang Qifu was a Shan drug lord whose height of power was in the 1980s. He received notable military training from the Burmese Army, which was then used to found an independent “Shan” state.
Myanmar’s Opium warlord, he surrendered to the Burmese in 1996 and disbanded his military. He took his mistresses and moved to Yangon to form a variety of legal business practices. He died a free man at the age of 73.
His estimated wealth was around $5 billion USD.
5. Viktor Bout – $6 Billion
A former Soviet military man that used his experience amongst the fallen union to amass wealth. He used his air transport companies to transport weapons all across the planet, garnering him the title “The Merchant of Death” for his impressively far-reaching operations.
Viktor was well known for circumventing trade embargos despite the danger. He was arrested by a Thai and American co-op in 2009 and was extradited for terrorism charges. He will serve a 25-year sentence that began in 2011.
His estimated fortune is roughly $6 billion USD in assets.
4. Dawood Ibrahim – $6.7 Billion
An Indian criminal that operated a multi-faceted empire that dealt with a variety of illegal activities. From murder to terrorism, drug trafficking, to arms trade, and more; he did it all. Some sources claim he currently resides in Pakistan, but their governing body denies such.
This figure was believed to be part of the Bombay bombings of 1993, which earned him a bounty of $25 million from the American Government. His current location is unknown.
Estimations of his wealth are roughly $6.7 billion USD.
3. Semion Mogelivich – $10 Billion
A Ukrainian born Russian mobster that lives freely in Moscow via protection beneath his powerful friendships with various political figures. He directs a vast criminal empire, the “boss of bosses” to most Russian Mafias.
His crimes are countless, and his deplorable acts dauntless. He is noted to have a good relationship with Vladimir Putin as well, and will not likely face charges.
His estimated worth is in the field of $10 billion USD.
2. Amado Carrillo Fuentes – $25 Billion
A notable figure in the Mexican Cartel scene, this figure remains notorious for his control of the Juarez Cartel after killing his previous boss, Aguilar Guajardo. Amado Carrillo became known as “El Señor de Los Cielos” (“The Lord of the Skies”).
His operation was laundered through Columbia, which paid for the extremely expensive jets he used to transport drugs to various drop-points. He died via assassination from his bodyguards during facial reconstruction surgery in 1997 at the age of 40.
His expected wealth is 25 billion USD.
1. Pablo Escobar – $30 Billion
A Colombian drug lord and narcoterrorist; otherwise known as the “King of Cocaine”. Escobar One of the most notorious drug lords in recent history, this figure was despised by the police but beloved by the populace for giving back to the desperate masses.
He was a leader of the Medellin Cartel, a true elite amongst the criminal, his notoriety existing to this day. He monopolized the cocaine industry as his personal money machine in the ’80s to garner an impressive following from the FBI and a notable fortune.
Pablo Escobar was estimated to be worth $30 billion USD by the time of his demise.
Top 25 Richest Criminals in the World (Rankings)
These were the ranks of the most notorious and wealthy conmen and gangsters in modern knowledge. Did any of these mentioned mobsters give you pause of recognition? Discuss which one you found most interesting in the comments below, or better, share to spread the information!