10 Illegal Jobs to Get Rich Quick [Crime Does Pay]

How do criminals make money, and is it the easy way to get rich quick?

Ever wonder how the mob makes money? Wonder how much drug lords make?

I’m counting down the top ten illegal jobs that make the most money, from drug lord to the mob’s favorite money-maker. From interviews with the culprits to revealing which Hollywood star has a hitman in the family. This is how criminals get rich…or maybe not so much.

Thinking about making money illegally? These are the top 10 illegal jobs and why you might think twice.

  • Drug Lord
  • Fencing
  • Bank Robbery
  • Illegal Casino
  • Con Artist
  • Hacker
  • Arms Dealer
  • Pimp
  • Ticket Scalping
  • Hitman

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How Does the Underworld Get Rich Fast?

One of our most popular vids has been the ten high-paying jobs you can get without a degree, and researching for the video, I came across something I just had to follow up on.

I know I can’t be the only one that thinks about it. Some of the most popular movies and shows have been about it. From Tony Montana to Walter White of Breaking Bad, we’re fascinated by the get-rich ease of the underground jobs.

So I couldn’t resist researching the top 10 illegal jobs to get rich, how much they make, and the truth when you get beyond the Hollywood hype.

What I found blew my mind and will take the glamour off many of these illicit jobs. Understand that this is purely for entertainment purposes only. In fact, after the list, I’m going to reveal one reason not to go over to the dark side that nobody ever thinks about until it’s too late.

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How do Drug Lords Make Money?

how much does a drug lord make

Our first illegal high, paying job here is a big one, the drug lord. Now the United Nations estimates the global illicit drug market at over $360 billion a year, so we’re talking about a whole industry of workers, from growers to dealers all the way up to the kingpin.

I actually live right now in Medellin, Colombia. Yes, home of Pablo Escobar and the Narcos, and I’ve seen my share of dumb gringos come down thinking they’re going to be the next Frank Lucas, immortalized by Denzel Washington in the movie American Gangster.

A gram of cocaine will cost you about $10 here on the streets of Medellin and sells for as much as $80 in the United States. Understand though you’ve got an entire industry of jobs at every step.

For example, when someone buys drugs on the street, they typically pay a dealer and then have to go to another guy that actually hands over the drugs.

This is an attempt not to get prosecuted as a dealer because the first guy is just collecting money from a friend, and the second guy is just sharing his own stash, not necessarily selling anything.

Depending on what they’re selling, these guys might make a few hundred a day up to a thousand. But these guys are chumps, right?

They’re taking all the risk while the city supplier or the drug lord sits back and collects millions. It’s estimated that Bolivian drug lord Roberto Suarez Gomez was making $400 million a year during the 80s.

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How does the Mafia Make Money?

how does the mob make money

Our next illegal job is fencing, and it’s probably the most common way the mob makes money.

There are two forms here: reselling stolen goods or using a patsy company to buy goods, not pay for them, and selling them at a discount. The mob knows it can move their sales fast because they’re selling at a considerable discount, like forty cents on the dollar.

What does it care? It’s all profit because it didn’t pay anything in the first place.

The mob might hijack a truck, or one of the best examples is in the movie Goodfellas where mob boss Paulie gets involved in protecting the restaurant owner. For payback, the mob starts charging all kinds of liquor, meats, whatever on the restaurant’s credit accounts, then turns around and sells the stuff out the back door.

It’s a short-term scam because the restaurant is never going to be able to pay off all the charges, but the mob knows it can always move on and squeeze someone else.

According to a paper published by the Notre Dame Law School, property theft and fencing costs upwards of $144 billion in today’s dollars. Consider a significant discount on the resell, and that’s still worth nearly $30 billion a year in the United States alone.

Now for fencing, it helps to have that organized network to muscle a shop owner. Otherwise, you’re playing the stick-up man at night while trying to sell stuff during the day. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a lot of work to me.

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How Much do Bank Robbers Make?

how to be a bank robber

Our third illegal job for big bucks is bank robber, and this is one you don’t hear about much because banks have a policy of not disclosing how much is stolen in a robbery.

Why? Because if people knew just how much bank robbers were making…ooh boy!

According to FBI stats, bank heists are down 60% in the past 25 years, while cyber crimes have exploded. The Bureau reports just 4,030 robberies were pulled in 2015, but that still amounted to over $28 million or about seven grand each robbery.

Now that’s not a lot of money for a life-risking crime, but a 2017 study found that the average bank robbery lasts just three minutes, making about $140,000 an hour.

In 2015, Heist Man Clay Tumey did a question-and-answer on Reddit about his experience robbing three banks in 2006. Tumey was never caught but turned himself in to serve three years in 2007.

how much do bank robbers make

Tumey says he learned everything from the internet and never told anyone what he was doing. He would simply walk into a bank, hand the first available teller a note demanding all the $50s and $100-dollar bills, and then walk out.

No threats and no gun. He was in and out within a minute, and considering the average police response time to robbery is over five minutes, never saw a cop car.

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How to Start a Casino and Make Money

how to get rich quick casino

Fourth on our list of high-paying illegal jobs, and this has always been a really interesting one for me, is an illegal casino.

Is it hypocrisy or just state-sanctioned organized crime that only casinos can set up their own gambling? I mean, here you have a company that is allowed to create games designed to take your money. Worst still, they can kick you out if you’re caught doing anything like counting cards, which is legal but gives you the advantage.

The casino industry pulls in over $77 billion a year in the United States alone and pays its employees an average of just $47,000 annually. There are more than 500 casinos in the U.S., in every state except Hawaii and Utah.

My mom spent a lot of time in casinos when I was growing up, and I’ve spent my fair share. So I watch movies like The House, Rounders, and Boiler Room, and I think… Wouldn’t it be nice to be on the winning side of that for once?

how to start a casino

Most illegal casinos are actually set up as infrequent tournaments rather than an around-the-clock casino. The host charges a buy-in fee and then pays out most of the money to tournament winners but keeps some for profit.

In traditional casino games, understand that your profit is extremely thin. The average profit on a casino game is well under 5%, which means you’ll get about $5 of every $100 gambled each hour. Compare that to the 45% made by state lotteries, and the biggest winner of legalized gambling becomes immediately apparent.

So casinos, illegal or otherwise, make their money in quantity. If you’re only making a 3% profit on gamblers, you need a hundred people making $100 bets for an hour to make a $300 profit. Out of this, you have to pay dealers, wait staff, and security.

You can see why casinos need 24/7 operations and tens of thousands of people to make those billions.

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How do Con Artists Make Money?

how to be a con artist

Our fifth illegal job is con artist, whether it be in shady investment schemes like the $65 billion stolen by Bernie Madoff or nearly $3 million in bad checks written by Frank Abagnale.

A con artist is a tricky one to explain because it’s not one specific illegal job but a way of pulling off a range of heists, from the multi-level Ponzi scam to just selling phony products.

You know the saying, “If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.” It became popular because there was a con, possibly the greatest con artist in American history, that made millions selling the Brooklyn bridge after it was built in 1883.

For 30 years, George Parker convinced recent immigrant arrivals and others that he was more interested in bridge building than ownership. He would sell them the rights to put tolls on the Brooklyn bridge for just $75 or about $1,740 in today’s prices.

It’s said George sold the bridge out of his real estate office about twice a week for three decades, a scam that would have made him over $5.4 million.

Being a con artist is just as much the personality and salesman as anything else. From the longer title, confidence man, these people find those worst traits in others and exploit them for profit.

how do con artists make money

One of the most famous con artists, Joseph “Yellow Kid” Weil, writes in his autobiography, “The desire to get something for nothing has been very costly to many people who have dealt with me and with other con men. When people learn, as I doubt they will, that they can’t get something for nothing, crime will diminish, and we shall live in greater harmony.”

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How do Hackers Make Money?

how do hackers make money

Over halfway through our list of high-paying illegal jobs, and next on the list is hacker. Hacking has come a long way since Matthew Broderick played tic-tac-toe to avert nuclear war in 1983.

IBM security estimates that 80% of cybercrime is now perpetrated by organized gangs operating in cubicle farms, just like a regular business.

It’s estimated that hackers will steal data or breach the networks of over 60% of the businesses in the U.S. each year and generate at least $1.5 trillion globally. That includes over $160 billion in trading personal information and a billion in ransomware.

One of the newest forms of hacking is breaking into someone’s computer, locking it up and demanding a ransom to unlock it. A 2013 launch of the ransomware Cryptolocker reportedly made over $3 million doing just that.

Another HILARIOUS new scam going around is what’s being called the Porn Pirates, where emails are sent out claiming to have hacked your webcam and recorded…the free time you spend in front of your computer.

The hackers then demand up to $800 in a bitcoin transfer, or they’ll release the video to everyone you know.

This one isn’t even a hack, really. The scammers haven’t hacked into your computer but are simply playing on people’s fears of being hacked and humiliated.

How to Be an Arms Dealer and Get Rich

how to be an arms dealer

Our seventh illegal job, arms dealer, isn’t necessarily illegal at all. There is a legitimate business of buying and selling weapons, but you must do it through government procurement contracts.

The 2016 movie War Dogs with Jonah Hill is a surprisingly true-to-life recount of three friends making millions on the pentagon’s weapons procurement bidding process. The Miami natives bought and sold guns and ammunition for years, buying from brokers in Eastern Europe and selling to the U.S. military.

It was only when they landed a $300 million contract to supply the Afghan army with ammunition that it became an illegal job that would bring them down. They had to deliver millions of rounds for the contract and turned to repackage illegal Chinese ammunition in Albania.

Outside the legitimate arms trade, that’s how the illegal gun runner works, buying weapons in markets with few restrictions and then selling in places like West Africa that have import restrictions on those weapons. This model was shown in the 2005 Nicolas Cage movie Lord of War, based on a collection of gun runners, including Viktor Bout and Sarkis Soghanalian.

How much do illegal arms dealers make? Jean Bernard Lasnaud, a French-born arms dealer in Florida, claims to make up to $2.5 million a year. Viktor Bout is estimated to have made over $50 million selling arms to the Taliban in the late 90s.

As for getting started, American citizens must first get a Federal Firearm License and then get an export license, but that’s about it. You have to learn the import/export rules around the business, but even someone on the legal side of this can make a lot of money.

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How to Become a Pimp

Eighth on our list of illegal jobs is the second oldest profession, pimp, and a report by the Urban Institute in 2014 shows just how much pimpin pays.

The report revealed the underground sex economy to be as high as $290 million yearly in just eight major U.S. cities. In the study of markets in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, San Diego, and D.C., pimps made between $5,000 to almost $33,000 weekly.

More than a third of the pimps interviewed worked through what they called a bottom girl, a trusted prostitute that helped manage the others and often took the blame with law enforcement.

Pimps and their network advertising provide security and pay some expenses. Lest you think it’s all big dollar signs, though, pimps reported spending upwards of $500 a week just on transportation and rental cars. From $300 to $500 a week went to beauty salons, tanning, and clothes and hotel costs could easily reach above a grand a week.

All going to show that Big Daddy Kane was right when he said, “Pimpin ain’t easy.”

Do Ticket Scalpers Still Make Money?

how to scalp tickets

Second, to last on our list is the ticket broker, or scalping as most people know it.

Secondary market ticket sites like StubHub and SeatGeek have changed the game for this money-maker. The ticket scalper’s biggest problem today isn’t the cops but the bots used by large-scale brokers.

A big-time scalper can have rows of computers and software that hits the online ticketing sites with thousands of ticket requests. They can corner the market for a concert in a matter of minutes and then make thousands selling when the price is right.

There’s still some room for the little guy with a team of people sitting at their computers. You’ll spend most of your time researching what concerts you think could be popular and then being ready when tickets go on sale. You then watch the price on secondary sites and wait to sell your tickets.

There is some risk here because ticket scalpers are betting on what concerts will be in demand when the tickets are sold out. One scalper told Billboard.com that he might lose $100,000 on a lousy concert.

The higher price of tickets has also cut into profits. The same broker said he used to make $60 to $70 on a ticket but now might only clear $30 because the original price of the tickets is so high.

There really isn’t much legal action against scalpers these days. Besides being difficult to catch and prosecute, who’s going after the guy making $30 on a ticket when the venue is charging $15 for a beer?

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How Much Money Does a Hitman Make?

Our last illegal job here is the hitman or professional assassin. Now hundreds of movies have been made about hired killers, and after researching the job, this one is definitely the most glamourized and re-imagined by Hollywood.

Research in 2003 by the Australian Institute of Criminology found the average payment for a hitman around $15,000, but more than half the contracts paid $9,000 or less. Not what you’d expect from the movie lore where hitmen win six-figure contracts.

Also, contrary to what you see in the movies, the Australian and other studies have found personal relationships are the most common reason for a hit. One-in-five hits are contracted ahead of a coming divorce, break-up, or cheating spouse so if you’re thinking you’ll only be killing bad guys, think again. Only 10% of hits are tied to organized crime or drug-related.

Hits aren’t the sophisticated and elaborate plan you see on the big screen either. Most involve simply walking up to the person with a gun, sometimes making it look like a failed robbery.

In fact, the only Hollywood connection I could find is the fact that one Hollywood star, Woody Harrelson’s dad, Charles Harrelson, was convicted of killing two people and accused of several other murders. The elder was reportedly paid $14,000 in today’s dollars for the ’68 killing of Sam Degelia and was later accused of killing Judge John Wood Jr in 1979.

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Are Illegal Ways to Make Money Worth It?

That’s ten illegal jobs that can make a lot of money, but there’s one flaw nobody thinks about here. Even if you can make six figures in some of these jobs, and it seems most of them don’t, what happens when you get caught? Yeah, I know. Nobody thinks they’ll get caught when thinking about pulling an illegal job but just remember, you have to be correct and have nothing go wrong in EVERY job you do…the cops only have to be right once.

That means everyone gets caught eventually, and nobody quits until they do. You might say you’ll quit after a few times, make just enough money to be on easy street, and then retire, but that never happens. Get away with it and make easy money once…and why would you ever stop? You’ll stay in the game, and eventually, you’ll make a mistake. Then you’ve got a rap sheet. Even when you get out, you won’t be able to get a decent job, and the cops will automatically put you top of the list of suspects in any new crime.

Factor in the lost wages while in prison and the shitty jobs for the rest of your life plus the value of lost time from your family…I don’t think it’d be worth it for a million dollars.

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